Posted on Sunday, January 12th, 2020
The world may be cold and bleak right now but there's a bit of warmth to be had, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• WWDD? I am very late to the party with What Would Diplo DO? but am very glad that Hulu recommended it to me. James Van Der Beek plays a parody of real-life DJ Diplo and the result is some of the funniest television I've ever seen. I can't believe that Diplo signed off on this (as well as produced it). I hesitate to link to this (NSFW) trailer because the show is so much better than this would indicate, but here it is...
It seems impossible we haven't seen a second season since the show was originally released in 2017. Since there's only five episodes available (which I've already watched twice), I need more Diplo in my life.
• Deeply Faked. I was disappointed by The Irishman... everybody involved has done better work elsewhere and I was bored by it all. But I did watch it. And a big part of the movie is the fact that the story is told over a long period of time. So Netflix had to pony up a big chunk of money for computer FX to de-age the characters. It was done well enough that it wasn't distracting... nor did it stray too far into uncanny valley territory. But it wasn't terribly convincing either. Which is why I find the fact that some guy used free "deep fake" tools to do a much better job of it for zero dollar so amusing...
These are the same free tools that did a far superior job of replacing Superman's face after Henry Cavill couldn't shave his mustache for Justice League. I wonder how long until Hollywood gets smart about these tools. I also wonder how long before faked video is indistinguishable from authentic video... and how that's going to change the world. What happens when you can't tell what's real any more?
• HEADLINE: 32-year-old Medford man fighting severe flu case. I stopped getting the flu vaccine because it never seemed to make a difference. I started again when I became a granduncle because I wanted to take every possible precaution that I wouldn't get him sick. My doctor once asked me if I had gotten my flu shot and I told him that I stopped doing that. His reply? "Well, 50,000 people a year die from the flu, but it's your call." That didn't change my mind, but I see this story and what he said is stuck in my head. 32 years old. Man, I wish this poor guy the best of luck and hope he gets better soon. Get your flu vaccine, people. And if you want to know more about it, the CDC has a page for that.
• Front and Center. Holy cats! This $3 utility restores MacOS X window functionality so that clicking on one window will bring all windows for that app to the front. I have NO idea why Apple changed this behavior from all the MacOS's before X, but it drives me insane. And now it's BACK, baby. No idea how much I've missed this. 100% critical app.
• WAKANDA FOREVER! Yo, Marvel Studios... what is it going to take to get an M'Baku series on Disney+? The guy steals every single scene he's in! He lives in one of the most magical places on earth! He's a character everybody loves! Winston Duke is a cinematic treasure! It's like... how many pieces need to click together before you do what needs to be done? Is Kevin Feige asleep at the wheel?
And who wouldn't guest star in THAT piece of awesome? Black Panther? Shuri? Okoye? Nakia? They could all make an appearance. This is a show that's begging to be made.
And now for some hot chocolate.
Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2020
When I got home from work I burned through thesecond season of Fleabag. Don't ask me why it took me this long to get around to it. Maybe it's because I didn't freak out over the first season like everybody I know did. Sure I liked it, but it wasn't better than sliced bread, I tell you what.
No, it's the second season of Fleabag that's better than sliced bread.
And speaking of better than sliced bread...
Nice to see that Marvel dumped some serious money into giving Black Widow the movie she deserves. Taskmaster is the perfect opponent, so something to look forward to (as if I weren't already).
Posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2020
Ugh. NBC just released the details of their new "Peacock" streaming service and it's not good news for me.
I have been ditching online streaming services right and left in an attempt to save money. I've decided that I'm just going to rotate between them so I have no more than two active at a time. Hulu and Netflix are getting temporarily dumped in favor of CBS All Access so I can watch Picard later this month. Then it looks like I'm going to have to dump that when all the Picard episodes have aired so I can switch to NBC's "Peacock" service for Will Forte's new MacGruber series. I loved the shorts on Saturday Night Live and really loved the MacGruber movie, so there's no option for me to avoid "Peacock" as I had planned...
I hope hope hope that Kristen Wiig will at least do a guest-shot as Vicki St. Elmo on MacGruber... but she's got so much going on with movies and such that it's probably a long shot.
So let's take stock of where I'm at with paid streaming services, shall we?✓ Fubo (My main service for television)
Such a load of crap. The pricing almost ensures that people will not keep their subscriptions year-round but will instead rotate between everything like I'll be doing. They would be a lot smarter to drop from $6 a month (average) which will likely net $18 from me annually to a pre-paid yearly plan of $40 which would get them double the revenue. But oh well. I'm sure there will eventually be some kind of shakeup and consolidation, because there are likely even more streaming services on the way.
The biggest losers? Cable and satellite companies who have fucked over their customers for decades by forcing expensive massive packages with channels people will never watch. Had they gone à la carte ages ago, they could have survived this. As it is? Good riddance.
Posted on Sunday, January 19th, 2020
I'm still sick and dying, but the show must go on, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• HDR. I've had a 4K AppleTV since the day it was released. The 4K part isn't a massive improvement over 1080 because my television isn't big enough (or rather I'm not sitting close enough) for it to make a big difference. When I get up close, fine details do look also nice... especially fine lines like strands of hair and the like. And so I just left the settings to the default of 4K because my TV can do that. Sometimes if it's a really beautiful movie that's being displayed in 4K I'll pull up a chair so I can see all the incredible detail up close. In discussing this, I was told that the default 4K is in Standard Dynamic Range and I should check to see if my television can display High Dynamic Range. A quick look at the specs and... my television CAN display HDR. I thought my AppleTV was already set to HDR, but I went into my AppleTV settings and, sure enough, it was set to SDR instead. So I made a quick comparison by switching back and forth while watching Captain Marvel. SUCH A HUGE DIFFERENCE!
The glow when Captain Marvel uses her powers alone is worth the switch. But where it really makes a difference is in the black levels. Any time people are in shadow you can see much more subtlety in their presence. Even more important, Agent Fury and Maria Rambeau's gorgeous skin tone is far better defined and doesn't get lost when they're in shadow. Just watch the scene where Fury and Carol are washing dishes and you'll see what a difference it makes... far more of a difference than going from 1080 to 4K. Another movie that just luxuriates in HDR? Blade Runner 2049. If you've got a television that can display HDR, then that's the most important setting you can make.
NOTE: The Marvel movies are not... I repeat NOT... in 4K or HDR if you purchase them on iTunes. You have to watch via a different app which has them in Ultra-High-Def HDR. If you purchased with MoviesAnywhere, you're good. The Disney+ app looks like it's HDR, but I haven't done a lot of testing.
NOTE: The "Movies" app on AppleTV stupidly does not seem to tell you when movies are encoded in HDR. You have to look them up on the shitty AppleTV desktop app on a computer to know that. So lame.
NOTE: Just to say... I've been running through the movie purchases I have which are in HDR and the picture quality is stunning. Even movies like Crazy Rich Asians which don't seem like they would be affected have a delicious richness to them. Seriously, wow.
NOTE: After watching a while, I am relatively confident that the AppleTV app for Disney+ is showing 4K HDR. Yay! So even if you only own the crappier iTunes versions, you can still watch in HDR with Disney+, I guess. Boy is Thor: Ragnarok disappointing. I thought once they got to Sakaar the color would be off the hook. Alas, not as often as you'd think, just in certain scenes. But the lightsaber fight in Star Wars: The Force Awakens nice.
• Reprisal. I suspended Netflix a couple weeks back, now I've also suspended Hulu so I can reactivate CBS All Access for ten weeks to watch Picard (unless CBS is a total dick and skip weeks like they've done with Discovery, the assholes). For the two days left I've got Hulu I've been watching it non-stop to get my money's worth. The last show I had on my list to watch was Reprisal...
A cross between all those revenge movies and Sons of Anarchy, this show is one of the most drawn-out, uneventful, dull, and overall boring series you'll ever see. Long stretches where absolutely nothing happens. Characters that have loads of screen time yet are somehow one-dimensional. There's also moments of real stupid which pad runtime just because there were ten episodes to fill. And yet... it was a fascinating, stylish, twisty, interesting ride that accelerated to the finish line. And had some great moments. I don't regret watching it. I do regret that I spent so much time watching it. So if you've got time to kill, here's a show to check out. You'll need to tough it out those first five episodes though.
• Kindness. It's not that difficult, really. If you can't be supportive of people living their best life at zero cost to you, you can at least be kind. So be kind. Offer kindness to those who are being treated unkindly. Stand against those who are treating others unkindly. As a fellow human, it’s the very least we can do.
• Dietary Sadness. Quaker rice cakes are a staple of my diet. I love them. They are high in carbs (7g to 11g ea.), but it's a far better option for dessert than say... three Chips Ahoy cookies (22g) or your average cupcake (40g). I have a Plain or White Cheddar or Popcorn cake with my lunch and a flavored cake with my dinner for dessert. My favorite for dessert, by a wide margin, is Caramel Chocolate Chip. Except you can't get them any more. You have to choose either Caramel or Chocolate. Caramel Chocolate Chip has been replaced by Tomato Basil.
I decided to try them and I can't make up mystery mind. The first bite and I'm like "Tastes like crackers in tomato soup!" The second and I'm like "Tastes like pizza sauce!" Then things start to go wrong. The flavor powder accumulates on your taste buds and suddenly it's awful for some reason. I am so very, very sad that my Caramel Chocolate Chip rice cakes are gone.
• Pantone. There is beauty to be found in diversity. And this is amazing.
• Help. And before I go... I read this week that there's now a hotline specifically for caregivers... "Depression. Exhaustion. Burnout. Stress. Those are just some of the words people are using to describe their experiences as caregivers. Helping care for a family member or loved one can be hard work. People don't often talk about the emotional toll it can take on the actual caregiver. Now the Caregiver Action Network is trying to provide help by launching a hotline specifically for caregivers." — Had this existed, there were days I would have totally called this number.
And now... probably time for a nap considering I'm about to pass out anyway.
Posted on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020
For years now... a decade really... I've been experimenting with setting up a personal NAS (Network Attached Storage) media server that's connected to the internet. There are a lot of reasons I'd like to have such a thing, but the big one is that I want to be able to access my vast photo library from anywhere on earth. If I'm in Germany and want to show a friend a photo of the Hard Rock Cafe Yokohama (something that actually happened) it would be great if I could do that. Sure I have the option of paying for a photo service, but then I have to convert all my images from RAW format and lose the ability to access/edit the original photo remotely if I want to.
So I purchased a 1 Terabyte single-drive, internet-enabled "WD My Book Studio" NAS back in 2010 with that in mind. Everything ended up being a total mess and didn't work at all like I was hoping. It's been sitting in a drawer ever since.
Fast forward to 2019 and I decided to try again. I used money I had saved in 2014 for a trip to Norway's fjords with my mom (that we never got around to taking) and purchased a QNAP TS415+ NAS and two Western Digital 8 Terabyte RED drives to put in it. The drives are mirrored in a RAID configuration so I don't lose any data if one of them dies. Note that there's a television remote. That's because this model has an HDMI port so it can hook up directly to a television...
Today I finally set it all up. It was fairly straightforward, though not the most user-friendly thing to do. It spent hours doing a "RAID resync" (whatever the hell that is), which makes zero sense. The drives were empty and freshly formatted. How can it take over 24 hours to "resync" NOTHING? Note that QNAP doesn't bother with beta testing their apps. If they did, somebody might have noticed that the displayed percentage overwrites the text label, making it tough to read its progress...
Before you can do anything, you have to set up a "Storage Pool" from your drives. I maxed my pool out at 100% of my available drive space, because why only use part of your drives? QNAP is pretty brain-dead when you choose to do this... it will endlessly pester you with alerts because it defaults to a threshold of 80% usage. Insanity. If somebody sets their pool to 100% of drive space, why not ask if you want to disable the threshold alerts? I had to do it manually. Sadly, after setting things up, my 8TB mirrored drive resulted in only 7.1TB of space available. No idea what happened to nearly a FULL TERABYTE of storage (this seems high for overhead), but whatever.
Rather than have to install a third-party app, I decided to give the QNAP "Qmedia" app a try on my AppleTV since it's the "native" application from QNAP. It is complete and total shit. Despite "pretending" to remember where you left off when viewing videos, it doesn't. You can't even fast-forward the video you're watching, which is mind-blowing. I have no fucking idea why they even bothered. Qmedia is useless.
I'd rather not have to switch television video input sources from my AppleTV every time I want to watch something off the NAS, but apparently that's going to be how this goes. So I grabbed the QNAP remote and went for it. First I had to install an app (of course) but no big deal. Then I actually tried to use the thing and it's a total clusterfuck. The "VideoStation" app is just a fucking web browser interface. It's difficult to read because it's not sized for a television. It's impossible to use with the included remote because the remote doesn't do anything. You have to plug in a mouse and keyboard to make it work.
There's an "HD Player" app that looks like it's geared more towards television displays and using the remote control but it's fucking useless too, having many of the same problems as Qmedia. It goes non-responsive constantly, doesn't allow fast-forwarding (pressing the up arrow to skip forward is not the same thing), starts at the beginning of a video even if you tell it to resume from where you stopped, has a shitty interface that makes sorting through a large number of videos a nightmare, has crap video quality that you can't adjust for brightness or anything else, and is an overall steaming pile of fail.
I swear, QNAP is the most ridiculous fucking company. Why bother to make claims of being a multimedia center that can connect directly to your television if it does THIS shitty of a job of it? The whole thing is a fucking joke.
Fortunately there's plenty of options for serving your media from a NAS if it has a computer onboard like the TS451+ does. The "big two" are Kodi and Plex. Kodi is open source and free. Plex is free, but you can support the project by paying to subscribe to "Plex Pass" for additional features (like being able to download media on your phone for local playback instead of streaming it). Most people I know who started on Kodi ended up with Plex, so I just skipped a step and installed Plex Server on my NAS.
For what it is, Plex Server is pretty sweet. It transcodes just about anything you throw at it. Including the RAW Digital Negative photo format from Adobe (DNG) that I use. Which means I don't have to save out JPEGs in order to access my photo library remotely. Nice! I need to work on settings for this, however, because Plex compresses things pretty heavily for transmission. This results in some ugly visual artifacts, banding, and color shifts...
Video works brilliantly from Plex BECAUSE YOU CAN ACTUALLY FUCKING FAST FORWARD THROUGH IT ON APPLE TV! Plex does a really good job of cataloging it as well. Thank heavens, because I'd light my QNAP NAS on fire if I had to suffer through their shitty apps. The only problem I've run across is having the video stop and tell me that my connection isn't fast enough, which is absurd because AppleTV is literally plugged into the same high-speed hub as the NAS! There must be some kind of setting for that I'm missing. Fortunately, it's a rare event.
I don't steal media. All the movies and television shows I have are on DVD/Blu-Ray or purchased on Digital. Well, with two exceptions... Cupid (the Jeremy Piven original) and Oh Grow Up! (one of my favorite shows of all time)... are not available to purchase. Lord only knows I wish they were, because my digitized versions of VHS tapes are really poor quality. I've used Vudu's Disc-To-Digital service to convert the bulk of my DVD/Blu-Ray collection to Digital legally. But not all of my stuff is available for conversion. Now I have the option of ripping them to the NAS and viewing them digitally no matter where I am via Plex Server. Technically, any time you break the protection on a DVD you are breaking the law, but that's a bullshit law. I would happily pay to convert them to digital if the studio who owns them would allow them to be converted. What I'm not going to do is buy the same movie all over again. Fuck that. I already paid for it, I should get to pay a small fee for a new format, not have to buy it all over again. And so... I have a small collection of DVDs ripped to my NAS temporarily until the studio allows them to be converted and I can pay for that. Plex does a great job of streaming from my living room to remote locations in HD. No, the video quality is not as good as what comes off of iTunes... especially if the iTunes version is 4K... but it's plenty good enough for my iPad or iPhone. I'm sure if I didn't have tons of security cameras flooding my bandwidth I could set the quality higher, but it's really not necessary.
Music streaming (local and remote) is handled quite well through Plex, and my SONOS system can address Plex directly. This means I can download all my music from iTunes, put it on the NAS, then drop iTunes Music Match and iTunes itself with no problem.
And so... bravo Plex.
I'm going to try out "Plex Pass" for a month and see if I want to upgrade to the lifetime membership for $120. Something tells me that's a purchase I will end up making. I certainly can't do without Plex if my alternative is the QNAP crap.
UPDATE: Yeah. Easiest decision to make to get the Plex Pass... the apps for streaming are included and you're helping the team behind it to keep developing the app.
So okay... the QNAP multimedia is bullshit. What about the NAS itself? Well, I'd love to report on that, but the minute I login, it either immediately disconnects me...
...or it allows me in but gives me a shitload of error messages. My favorite? Telling me it's running out of memory. If 2GB is not enough memory to do even the most basic tasks, then why ship with just 2GB memory? QNAP has their own version of Microsoft "Clippy" to break the bad news, which is a weird choice...
Even better? If you choose "optimize" he does a happy dance when he recovers 0MB of memory! Once I can log in again, I'll turn off and uninstall absolutely everything except the bare minimum I need (which includes Plex Server, of course), so I'm hoping that will fix these problems.
My NAS can act as a Time Machine backup for my Mac, but I really don't need that any more. All my data is stored in the cloud, so the only thing that would need to be replaced on my MacBook if it were destroyed are the apps, which I can just download from the developer again.
QNAP provides Apple File Services so I can access my NAS over my local network easily. Weirdly enough, you are required to install Windows File Services in order to install Apple File Services, but (luckily) you can kill the Windows File Services after installation to save precious memory and everything seems to work fine.
Speaking of memory... QNAP is happy to sell you more, but they charge outrageous pricing for the stuff. I mean laughably outrageous pricing. Far better to buy it yourself (which I'm guessing I'll have to do sometime soon if killing apps don't work).
Remote management and access to my files is a breeze thanks to QNAP's tools and a service they call CloudLink. The NAS talks with QNAP so even though its IP address may change, you can still reach it with no trouble.
I am still relatively new to the QNAP TS451+ NAS and the Western Digital RED drives, so I can't comment much about them. I can say that Western Digital are the only brand of hard drive that hasn't disappointed me so I'm hoping that trend continues. Also, despite the shitty media center aspects and overly-difficult controls, QNAP is highly respected in the IT industry. I just wouldn't bother paying extra for an HDMI port and remote that you will probably never use because their software is shit. Put that money towards a Plex Pass where it will do some good.
Posted on Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
I am a massive fan of the original Star Trek series. And the original cast movies too.
I did not like Star Trek: The Next Generation because it was just so boring. Aside from an occasional good episode, the lack of conflict on the ship and Gene Roddenberry's "new vision for the future" was a massive downgrade from where he started. Then Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came along and, while beloved by critics and fans, was somehow worse. Odo the non-shape-changing shape-changing alien? Quark comic relief? The Prophets? I mean, sure there was Avery Brooks, but holy crap. AND THEN, just when I thought things couldn't possibly get worse... Star Trek: Voyager. I was totally excited for it. At first. Enemies on the same ship? CONFLICT! Biomechanical ship? COOL! Stranded across the galaxy where survival is a constant struggle and no allies in sight? EXCITING! But then they ended up doing the same old Next Generation shit all over again and boring the heck out of me. Star Trek: Enterprise was a step in the right direction, but they burdened it with a "Temporal Cold War" that was a boat-anchor tied to the show in a horrible way.
Naturally, when CBS announced they were coming out with Star Trek: Discovery, I was skeptical. The cast was amazing (seriously amazing) and they looked to be doing something new, but the ship looked like shit and the early previews with engine spores and stuff looked like crap.
Boy was I wrong.
The first season of Discovery was phenomenal.
The performances and characters were incredible. The stories were cool as all getout. And the "big twist" was about the best thing to come out of Star Trek in decades. I loved just about everything about it. Critics said it "wasn't Star Trek" and hated on it terribly. This made me laugh my ass off, because it was easily the most "Star Trek" thing to happen since the original series! People who said it "wasn't Star Trek" were saying it wasn't "NEXT GENERATION Star Trek." Which, of course, was my favorite thing about it. The second season wasn't as good, but it was still worth watching.
And now there's Star Trek: Picard...
Obviously I was not enthusiastic about the continuation of a show which I feel is the point Star Trek went terribly wrong. I like Patrick Stewart... like him a lot... but more Star Trek: Next Generation was not something I was interested in. Paying extra for CBS All Access to see it was the nail in the coffin. Except... I read more than a couple interviews with Patrick Stewart and other people working on the show who promised that it was not going to be more of the same old thing. They were doing something new.
Well, sign me up! Even though I was certain it was going to suck.
Boy was I wrong.
First of all, Patrick Stewart is phenomenal in this. He's playing up the age of his character rather than trying to act like he's twenty years younger. Second of all, my mind was completely turned around when Picard said the words "Starfleet was no longer Starfleet!"
Finally somebody understands what the show needs to be interesting. The story being set up feels like it's going to be entertaining. The cast they've assembled is great. The guest-stars from the old new generation seem like they will be used to good effect. And, oh yeah, the special effects are fantastic...
I have high hopes that the talent behind the show have an ending that's going to be worth it all.
CBS sure seems to think so... they renewed the show for a second season AND invited Whoopi Goldberg back, who's "Guinan" is one of the most interesting characters to come out of the old new generation. So fingers crossed.
Something else that was new today? Jay & Silent Bob Reboot...
I'm a huge fan of Kevin Smith's "Askewniverse" films... Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Clerks II, and (to a lesser degree), Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. And now we're getting the sequel, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot. To me it was a mixed bag. Sure it was great seeing all the characters again and it was pretty funny in spots (though a lot of the humor relies on the viewer having seen all the previous films), but it's almost reached a parody of the parody it was parodying and priority is put on famous cameos and injecting his wife and daughter into things rather than humor, insightful commentary on pop culture, and the characters that made me love the movies so much.
I was glad I saw the movie (worth the $10 price tag), but couldn't help but think that half of it was wasted. I am really, really hoping that Smith goes back to form with Clerks III instead of sabotaging himself again.
Kevin Smith needs to Picard himself instead of giving up more Voyager.
Posted on Sunday, January 26th, 2020
I may be ankle-deep in sawdust, but here I am... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Push Back. The impeachment trial is absurd. There is overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing in a number of areas, and it's clear the president is exploiting his office for personal gain at every possible opportunity. But because Republicans in The Senate are 100% willing to enable his abhorrent behavior, he's going to remain in office. Which is why This post from Dan Rather is so important. "As many of us focus on the news out of Washington, let us not forget on these cold, winter nights, many are struggling with hunger and hopelessness. There are the lonely, the homeless, the sick, and scared. Service to others is a way to push back at the cynicism of our times."
• TEMPORARY! OH MAN! TIME TO STOCK UP MY FREEZER! YOU SIMPLY CANNOT BEAT THESE SAVINGS!!!
As I've made known many, many times, I rarely buy anything at the grocery store that's not on sale. I build my meals around what I can find that's inexpensive. I very nearly grabbed these for taco night until I was like "Wait a minute! Aren't these usually about $2?!?" Stores are pretty devious. They expect people will grab something on sale without looking for how much it's on sale.
• Dance Dance Dance. A new bird has been discovered. It's feathers are like a black hole, absorbing most light. This results in a very cool mating dance you gotta see...
It's amazing that we keep discovering new animals as scores of others are going extinct.
• Scraps. It's hard to complain about working on the weekend when I get to set up my wood shop and build displays! I cut the pieces for a rack display I will assemble tomorrow, and now I am building a half-dozen little fruit-crate-inspired booklet displays. They will have a small standee sitting next to them with info and pricing...
As thrifty as I am for my own projects, I've doubly so when spending money for work. The stands had to be heavy so they wouldn't move... and deep so they wouldn't tip over. I made the tray part look nice, then used whatever scraps I had laying around for the back-stops since they don't show. Works like a charm, and they ended up costing a whopping $2.20 each. =sigh= Designing and building displays is the best part of my job. Wish I got to do more of it.
• Peanut Hell. Killing time until 10:00 so I can fire up the power tools... I'm watching SNL from last night with Adam Driver. The cold open takes place in hell where Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials is visiting. She sold her soul to the devil so she could be on television forever. THEN can you guess what commercial comes on? Just guess! I hope that was planned and SNL contacted Progressive to have it happen, because that's genius.
In other news... POOR MR. PEANUT! Guess he shouldn't have killed all those kids with peanut allergies!
• Art. I recently read a Facebook post by Rachael Eliot Barker that's so important to me that I am reprinting it in its entirety...
"Recently, there was a dust-up over The Comedian, a piece in which Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan taped a banana to the wall of a gallery and sold it for $120,000. A gallery patron made additional news by pulling the banana off the wall and eating it. Interviews made it clear that everyone involved was trolling. The saga was catnip to people who believe that conceptual art is full of shit.
Maurizio Cattelan is clearly full of shit, but his work begs the question: could an artist ever walk into a gallery with some snacks, say 'This may look like something I picked up at the bodega on the way here, but it is in fact my Art, behold my Art,' and NOT be full of shit?
In my opinion, the answer is yes.
My opinion is heavily informed by this 1991 piece by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) is a pile of free candy. Visitors are invited to take one piece of candy. Frivolous, right? The piece may be staged in any gallery that follows a few simple rules. The most important rule is that the pile should weigh 175 pounds.
175 pounds was the healthy weight of Gonzalez-Torres’ partner Ross Laycock, who died of AIDS.
González-Torres had a Roman Catholic background, and taking the candy is meant to be an act of communion. The patron partakes in the “sweetness” of Ross while participating in his diminishment and torturous death.
The decision to use candy has political significance. In 1991, public funding for the arts and public funding for AIDS research were both the hottest of hot-button issues. HIV positive gay male artists were being targeted for censorship. González-Torres was desperate to be heard, and part of the logic of Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) was that you can’t censor free candy without looking ridiculous. The replicability of the piece makes it indestructible; González-Torres had an intuitive, ahead-of-its-time understanding of virality that came from dealing with an actual virus rather than the internet.
I’ve never seen this piece staged, but I think about it all the time. The artist, sadly, is no longer with us. But we will always have the most brilliant, heartbreaking free candy to ever be heaped in a corner. The key to conceptual art is storytelling — how well can you tell a story without words OR a “proper” picture? The banana on the wall sucks because it doesn’t tell a story about anything but attention-seeking and greed. I can’t stand Banana Guy or the media coverage surrounding him because stunts like that make people close their minds to unconventional art and storytelling, which can be just as sophisticated and moving as conventional art and storytelling."
I always assume that there's a story like this behind every artistic endeavor. I may not understand it... I may dismiss it... I may not like it... I may disagree with it... and all that is okay. So long as it means something to the artist and not just a stunt, I can at least respect them putting themselves out there like this.
And that's it for Sunday bullets.
Posted on Sunday, February 2nd, 2020
It's National Football Day, but it doesn't matter much to me... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• NED... NED RYERSON! I honestly don't care about the Super Bowl. I am not invested in football even a little bit. But I do like that companies are willing to spend all kinds of money creating commercials that I actually want to watch...
And, holy cow, would you look at this awesomeness...
After the Big Game is over, all the remaining commercials will be released. It's like Christmas for advertising nerds like me.
• Pringles! And then there's this, which I love for obvious reasons...
The second half of the new Rick and Morty season cannot get here fast enough.
• Happy Endings. One of the best shows to come along in quite a while for me is The Good Place. At least for the first two seasons. I watched the first couple episodes because I love Kristen Bell, didn't care for them, then said goodbye. Then one evening a number of weeks later I needed some background noise while I worked, landed on the show, and quickly became obsessed. Then they dropped one of the most mind-blowing season finales I've ever seen, left you wondering where the show could possibly go next, then topped themselves in the second season. I maintain that The Trolley Problem is one of my favorite episodes of all time of any show ever. And it's because it's filled with hilarious and brilliant moments like this...
Sadly, things started to fall apart in the third season. Then it all went to shit in the fourth and final season. I couldn't even watch it any more. But I tuned in to the final episode to see how it all wraps up... and was reminded of how good the show could be. That final moment which shows what becomes of you after The After was poetic and beautiful. Not enough to make me run back and watch all the fourth season episodes I missed... but pretty darn special. Really happy for shows that get a proper ending.
• iPad × 10. This past week the iPad turned 10 years old. It doesn't seem as though it's been that long since Steve Jobs introduced it to an unsuspecting world...
I remember the criticism vividly. A lot of people hated the name, equating it to a maxi-pad. A lot of people thought it would never sell because it was just a big iPhone that lacked any serious computing power. I was on the fence, but bought one anyway. Mostly because I liked the idea of it for travel. If there was even a chance that I could leave my laptop behind and carry the much smaller and lighter iPad with me, why wouldn't I? Sadly, the iPad didn't end up being the laptop killer I was hoping for. Not for my work anyway. It's getting closer and closer every day though. The first release of Photoshop for iPad was a grave disappointment, but I'm sure that's temporary. They'll get there eventually. I guess we shall see. Right now the only thing I use my iPad for is digital drawing and painting. And it's pretty great for that. My trial run at blogging worked okay, so perhaps in a year or two when the apps are right it will be exactly what I need it to be.
• BAYHEM! Some may question the wisdom of Netflix backing a dump truck full of money up to Michael Bay's house and asking him to make them a Michael Bay movie. I am not one of those people. Sometimes you just want to watch stuff exploding and things getting blown up in the most unrealistic and insane way possible and that's what Michael Bay delivers...
Doesn't hurt that they got Ryan Reynolds to star, and then let him totally be Ryan Reynolds. Or that they totally put the time, effort, and money into the epic location shoots or making the special effects look so good. For all the obvious reasons, the general consensus between critics is that they hated it. For even more obvious reasons, I loved it. Sequel please!
• Frozenless. Last night's Saturday Night Live had some moments. But this was the one that I had to rewind and watch over again...
But the best sketch of the night was the cold open...
No rational person thought that the Republicans would get behind an actual trial with witnesses and evidence and anything that makes a trial a trial... so color me unshocked that this is exactly what happened.
See ya next Sunday... when we won't have to worry about football again for 8 months.
Posted on Monday, February 3rd, 2020
There’s a difference between "I really connect to your lyrics"... and "I’m going to break in."
I never gave much thought to Taylor Swift. Her music was originally Country, which I don't listen to. Then she dropped into the world of Pop music with 1989 but I wasn't "in that place" at the time, didn't like the single Bad Blood at all, and ignored it. When Reputation was released I didn't much care for the first single, Shake it Off and ignored that album too.
Then I heard the song Mean while shopping in a store somewhere and didn't know who sang it, but Shazamed it even though it was Country because I was hooked by the lyrics...
Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
I made a mental note to take another look at Taylor Swift because that one song impressed me so much.
When I finally remembered to pull up her catalog on Amazon Music Unlimited while brushing my teeth one morning, the first song to come up was New Romantics...
Cuz baby I could build a castle
Out of all the bricks they threw at me
And every day is like a battle
But every night with you is like a dream
I remember just standing there, toothbrush in hand, toothpaste dribbling out of my mouth, trying to really listen to the lyrics, which were pretty great. From there I blew through all her music, consistently impressed with her songwriting, even if I didn't always like the song itself. But most of the songs from 1989 and Reputation I did like quite a lot.
Then the singles from Lover started dropping and I was suddenly full-on fan of Taylor Swift... putting Lover in the top spot of my favorite albums of 2019.
And now, just when I didn't think I could love Taylor any more than I already do, a documentary dropped on Netflix called Miss Americana...
I enjoyed it quite a lot. The film is an intimate look into the highs and lows of Taylor's life and gives a glimpse into her songwriting process (which is worthy of a documentary all on its own). There's also a good chunk of time devoted to Swift's decision to unleash her political beliefs, even though she knew full well what the consequences might be for her life and career. The scene where she's about to unleash a political tweet that changes everything was almost a hold-your-breath moment.
It would be really easy to watch her struggles and think "Oh boo hoo! Go cry into your millions of dollars because nobody cares!"
But any such snap judgements are made out of ignarance. Swift built herself a castle out of all the bricks that were thrown at her and earned her millions of dollars with hard work and talent. The fact that she uses her popularity and fame to speak out against bigotry and injustice when her life would be a lot easier if she just sat quiet and smiled is what makes Taylor Swift be Taylor Swift.
Even though she all too often gets burned for it.
And so... Miss Americana is recommended for Taylor Swift lovers and haters alike. If you have Netflix, give it a look.
Posted on Sunday, February 9th, 2020
It's Oscar Sunday but I just don't care, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Crapple! Given my longstanding rant against Apple being complete and total assholes by sticking their customers with shitty butterfly keyboards for years before they FINALLY thought to replace them with something not-quite-so-horrible, this one's for you. It's at the 2-minute mark...
People think this is funny... but, but I'm the biggest Apple Whore I know, and even I was seriously shopping for PCs before the 16-inch MacBook Pro was released. I hope Apple is fucking embarrassed at this, because they should be.
• Gold! I used to do a big thing on the Oscars, but I stopped giving a shit when they kept rewarding the same old crap. This year it looks like things are on a better track. Here's my list...
The love for Parasite, which would usually be thrown in the "Best Foreign Language Film" category (it still was and won there too), was a breath of fresh air. I didn't see it until last week or else it surely would have been one of my favorite movies of 2019.
• Mythical! If you haven't been watching Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet on Apple TV+, it's worth a look. Especially if you love video games. Apparently Rob McElhenney (who is at his most Rob McElhenneyist here) and Charlie Day consulted heavily with Ubisoft to get some semblance of accuracy even though this is a comedy about what goes on behind the scenes at a video game company. It shows. The show is absolute gold, and will easily make my list of favorites for 2020. It's not quite The Office or The IT Crowd, but it kinda draws from both...
The jokes come fast and most of them land well. I cannot believe that they got F. Murray Abraham. He has the perfect amount of gravitas for his part. But this is Rob McElhenney from start to finish and he's absolutely perfect.
• Starch! Wow. How come nobody told me that adding corn starch to scrambled eggs makes them taste like they've been slow-cooking for 30 minutes? This is reeeeeally nice. So creamy and rich. If you haven't tried it, these are pretty great. Also works wonders with omelettes. I will never cook scrambled eggs without it.
• NEWS: Antarctica logs hottest temperature on record with a reading of 18.3°C. That's 65°F, people. When I visited, there were many times I took off my jacket because Antarctica was too warm to have it on. I worry for the wildlife which calls this continent home. How is this going to disrupt their habitat and can they survive it?
Penguins are already having a tough time of it, and things look to be getting worse. And then there's polar bears starving in the Arctic. Troubling times for our planet.
• trAIn! Apple has put Artificial Intelligence "Machine Learning" in their iPhone and are making good use of it (especially with the camera). As time goes on, it's just going to be surreal how it changes our lives. Take for example this footage from Denis Shiryaev, which upscaled the video to 4K with machine learning and resounded it... Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, by Auguste and Louis Lumière, 1896...
Looks old, but almost new. Here's the original footage...
We are really close to the unreal easily being mistake for the real, if we're not there already.
• Netflix Fix! And, lastly, apparently there is a God... you can finally tell Netflix to STOP AUTO-PLAYING FUCKING PREVIEWS WHILE YOU ARE TRYING TO SEARCH FOR SOMETHING TO WATCH! People have been complaining about this bullshit FOR YEARS and Netflix did nothing. Apparently somebody finally figured that customers were worth listening to... or maybe it's because many other streaming services are treating customers with a lot more respect by not irritating the ever-loving-shit out of them...
Apparently you set it once in your preferences and it goes into effect everywhere. I haven't yet verified this, but I sure hope it's true.
And that's a wrap, little golden statue dude!
Posted on Tuesday, February 11th, 2020
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally addressed the omission of Luke Perry from the "In Memoriam" segment of The Oscars telecast... tl;dr, they only have a limited amount of time so he got bumped to their website instead.
Now, far be it for me to tell The Academy how to run their low-rated shitshow, but they can shove one of those little gold statues straight up their collective asses.
First of all... Perry appears in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, nominated for Best Picture in the same fucking telecast. And he was glorious in it. Totally held his own against Leonardo DiCaprio in a fantastic, critical scene. You can't claim that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a great movie without acknowledging his part in it. Of which Quentin Tarantino said this...
“It was really fun,” says the director. “I had a couple of different roles I could have put Luke in. Luke was like, ‘I want to be on the Western show!’ Because he’s just a really great rider and he loves doing Westerns. When we did one of his big horse scenes, Luke slides the horse to the front of the saloon and all the other riders fall in alongside him. I was like, ‘Luke, do you want us to help you out? Do you want me to put a mark on the ground?’ He was like, ‘Quentin? You could take a dime and throw it in the dirt and I will land on that dime. The take you’ll use is when everyone else gets it right.’”
Second of all... THIS WAS LUKE PERRY'S FINAL FILM ROLE!!! How the fuck do you use "we were short on time" as an excuse when the guy's last film is a Best Picture nominee at the time of broadcast? Insanity.
Third of all... did I mention that he was in The Fifth Element? Only like ONE OF THE GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME!
I'd like to end this diatribe on a good note, so here we go...
As you may or may not be aware, I am a Hallmark Movie fanatic who has seen hundreds of them. If you go to the main screen of Dave's Hallmark Movie Page and scroll down to FAVORITE MOVIES you will see Love in Paradise (2016) listed there. This is essentially "The Luke Perry Hallmark Movie" and I reviewed it thusly...
✓ Favorite Love in Paradise (Winterfest • Emmanuelle Vaugier and Luke Perry • January 2, 2016)
Okay, come on, it's a Luke Perry movie! Say what you like about him, he's a surprisingly good actor and can make even the smallest parts something special (remember him in The Fifth Element?). In this one he plays a former Western movie star who's having to do TV commercials for beans in order to make a living. But when a family ranch in Montana calls him away from his pampered New York City lifestyle as a publicity stunt, both parties get more than they bargained for. This one is funnier than you'd think... mostly because Luke Perry has never been one to shy away from poking fun at himself and is just plain funny. As a fake cowboy trying to keep up with a real cowboy's routine, he plays it note-perfect. And you really can't discount Emmanuelle Vaugier as the straight-man, because she's terrific too. The romance is a bit forced, but the chemistry between the leads is flawless. I didn't even mind that this was yet another SAVE THE RANCH FROM EVIL DEVELOPERS story.
In the movie a big point is made about Luke Perry's character being a fake cowboy star who didn't know how to ride a horse. On his movies he had people to ride the horses for him, and he just pretended to mount and dismount. But, by the end of the story, he's a darn good rider and it made me wonder if Perry had to learn how to ride for the movie.
— queue the laugh track —
After Googling for an answer, I found out exactly what Quentin Tarantino was talking about. Apparently I missed the riding movie
And so... yeah... Luke Perry didn't get an on-broadcast mention in the "In Memoriam" section of The Academy Awards, but he was a dedicated and beloved actor for decades who ended his career in an Oscar-nominated movie. If that's not a qualification, I don't know what is.
And don't ask The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because they apparently don't know either.
Posted on Saturday, February 15th, 2020
What in tarnation is happening here? There's no need to check your calendar... because an all new Bullet Sunday on Saturday starts... now...
• Red Sox! And so it begins... the team is converging on Fort Meyers for Spring Training, which begins full-squad workouts on Monday. Well, full-squad except Mookie Betts, who got traded to L.A. for some stupid reason (okay, it was probably to fall under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold for 2020, but still stupid)...
Photo from NBC Sports
I sure hope Boston has a better season this year than last year.
• 1917! If you know me, you know I love maps. This is so frickin' cool.
• You Better Work! As somebody who loves RuPaul, there was no way I was going to miss his new 10-episode series on Netflix...
From the trailer I expected it to be entertaining and funny. I did not expect it to be as deep, smart, and genuinely sweet and touching as it. Bonus: There's a lot of familiar faces popping up throughout, including many, many contestants from Drag Race. What sabotages the show is two things. 1) The kid is irrationally bratty and shitty at random times, screaming her head off for no reason. I have no idea why Ru and Michael Patrick King felt it necessary to go that far. And, 2) It doesn't have an ending and absolutely everything was left in the air with no resolution whatsoever. If Netflix doesn't give it a second season, viewers are screwed. Still, worth tuning in for.
• Miss Jackson! Janet Jackson Herself has announced that her new album and tour, Black Diamond, will be dropping this summer.
• Great Scott! These deep fakes are just getting more and more frightening...
Frightening because they are looking more and more realistic.
• Goo! If you did any kind of graphic design work in the 1990's, odds are you know of Kai Krause. His design tools allowed you to create some truly wondrous stuff... but had the absolute worst possible interfaces to get there. I never understood why they were so utterly wacky and nonsensical. Apparently, it was to spur creativity... to get people to just "play" with things until they were intuitively doing what they wanted to do. It never worked like that for me. I'd much rather have proper menus and tools that made it clear what was happening. Kai's Power Goo, for example, was just a mess. But it was Photoshop "liquify" before there was Photoshop liquify, and you have to respect that...
I owned absolutely everything Kai ever released. Used his tools all the time, even as I hated the way they worked. Even so, I found the story of his interface design an interesting read.
Sunday Saturday Bullets.
Posted on Thursday, February 20th, 2020
If there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that humanity as a whole is on the decline.
Today reeeeeeally drove that home for me. Vividly. And so I decided to go home and turn off the world for a while. Which would usually mean that I'd clean house, play video games, or build something, but I didn't feel like doing any of that.
Fortunately Netflix decided to tell me that there's a new offering called #CATS_THE_MEWVIE, which is a documentary about cats on the internet...
Yep. That did the trick.
Even if some of the people on this are nuts. Or assholes. Or both.
Ready to face the horror show that we call "Reality" again.
Posted on Sunday, February 23rd, 2020
It's possible that I'm too busy to blog, but I just can't seem to say no, so welcome to a Very Special Edition of what I've been watching lately... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• The Witcher! I actually watched this when it was released and, thanks to having played the video games, mostly knew what I was watching despite the confusing timelines. But I wanted to watch it again so I could just absorb it for the amazing Dungeon's & Dragons spectacle it is. Seriously... even better the second time around. The casting is sublimely perfect. Henry Cavill is doing an uncanny Geralt of Rivia impersonation and 100% looks the part. Anya Chalotra is an even better Yennefer, whose story is actually one that required the smarter acting chops. What's surprising is just how beautiful the series looks. No expense was spared because Netflix knew what they had... and also knew the show would be compared to Game of Thrones. They apparently didn't want to lose that contest. And so long as they don't fuck up the ending, they'll easily win. All in all... The Witcher is well worth your time.
Showing on Netflix.
• Avenue 5! Comedy in sci-fi is a tough nut to crack... despite what amazing television like Red Dwarf, and fantastic movies like Galaxy Quest, and phenemenal books like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy might lead one to believe. So I was understandably cautious when the promos for Avenue 5 started floating around, but it has Hugh Laurie in it, so why not? Turns out, it's one of the funniest things I've seen on my television in a while. When a pleasure cruise on a starship ends up falling into a course that will extend the journey by 3-1/2 years, a fake captain and a fake crew have to manage the very real crisis to hilarious effect. The jokes fly fast and furious and almost all of them land. If you have HBO and want to get your funny on, here's the show for you...
Showing on HBO.
• Ragnarok! The only Ragnarok I care about is the Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok, so I was going to take a big ol' pass on this Norweigian high school drama built around characters from Norse mythology. The result is mixed. There's a good idea here... and it will be interesting to see where they go with it... but having the spirit of Thor land in a kid so he can battle a modern incarnation of immortal frost giants (who are not-so-giant) is a bit of a snooze, and it feels like they are building it up to be more than it actually is. But who knows? If they dump enough money into this thing, then maybe it can be salvaged as things heat up in a second season...
Showing on Netflix.
• Hunters! Like I would miss an Al Pacino series. This Jordan Peele series features Nazi hunters who track down hundreds of Nazi officers back in 1977 who are hiding in the USA and intent on starting a Fourth Reich. Obviously a highly-fictionized story, I found myself drawn to the characters (and a fantastic Pacino performance) but left a bit cold by the story. I've only seen the first episode, but will likely tune in as more are released. But if I want to watch a violent alternate history involving Nazi hunters, my first instinct will be to watch Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds again.
Showing on Amazon Prime.
• Twice Upon A Time! This French sci-fi series is about a man who gets a cube delivered to his home which somehow allows him to go back in time prior to his break-up with his girlfriend when he crawls through it. The concept is a good one... kind of a romance-oriented version of Primer... but profoundly plodding and boring. Not until the very last scene is there any sense of excitement, and it's the beat which leads to a cliffhanger. Which may or may not be resolved depending on whether or not they get a second season. Regardless, I'll likely take a pass. I just don't seem to care enough to tune in again...
Showing on Netflix.
• Dracula! Steven Moffat forever became a favorite television creator thanks to the hilarious series Coupling for the BBC. He then sealed the deal with some really good episodes of Sherlock and Doctor Who. So when it was announced that he would be tackling Dracula in a three-episode series spanning olden days right up until modern times, I was intrigued. And today was the day. It's a fascinating series in the first and second episodes... building on all the myths that make up the legend... but ultimately falters a bit when Moffat jumps ahead in time to deconstruct all that. Still... there's some good stuff here, brilliantly anchored by performances from Claes Bang and Dolly Wells. Next up? Moffat is tackling Jekyll!
Showing on Netflix.
• Star Trek:Picard! I've already raved about how this show is defying my every expectation (and this coming from somebody who didn't like Star Trek: The Next Generation). But this latest episode where Jeri Ryan's Seven of Nine finally truly arrives just kicks things up to an entirely new level. Partly because she's just so dang good... but mostly because the surprising twist at the end which changes the lame-ass, pansy-ass boring "utopia" of the Next Generation universe that always bored me... into something really interesting and great to watch. Cannot wait to see where this is all going.
Showing on CBS All Access.
• Visible: Out on Television! This series about the history of LGBTQ characters on television was bound to be good just because it's a story that needs to be told. But Bruce Vilanch doing an impression of Paul Lynde was the best thing I saw all week. It's surprising... but not really surprising... just how recent LGBTQ characters are to television programming. Which makes this a fairly short but no less interesting series.
Showing on Apple TV+.
And that's what I've ebeen watching this week.
Posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2020
Its... THE SHITTIEST DAY OF THE YEAR, but help is on the way... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Lose an Hour! There are many people who don't like the time change to Daylight Saving Time. Not me...
And yet politicians won't do a damn about it. They've got bigger things to do... like fuck us over for lobbyist cash. I mean, holy shit. This is the ONE THING they could do to better our quality of life that wouldn't cost them a fucking thing, and yet here we are. JUST PICK A FUCKING TIME AND STICK WITH IT! And now I get to do my taxes.
UPDATE: Annnnd... my effective tax rate went up AGAIN under the "tax-you-less" president. How nice. And now he wants to cut the Social Security I fucking PAID INTO my entire working life? Oh well. At least we're getting a brand new tennis court at the fucking White House.
• Women! On the bright side, it's International Women's Day! Which is kind of silly because shouldn't every day should be International Women's Day?
• Guardians! James Gunn confirmed that he'd like to see a Drax & Mantis movie. Which I'd love to see too but, let's face it, the ideal home for such a project would be Disney+ streaming...
If James Gunn were to pitch a Disney+ series for Drax and Mantis to Kevin Feige that he would write and direct, Marvel Studios would be falling all over themselves to say yes. First of all, without Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, the cast budget is a fraction of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Second of all, without Rocket and Groot, the special effects budget could be a fraction of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This makes good sense. This makes phenomenal sense. And I'm willing to bet that Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff would 100% be up to do it. These are some of the most fun characters they could possibly play, so why not?
• Just Watch It.
• Sirens! There are plenty of television shows that I'm sad they canceled. One of the biggest is Sirens, which I love beyond all reason. I was rewatching them this weekend while working and started missing it all over again. Especially Billy, which is one of my favorite television characters of all time...
He was a reoccurring character in Season One... but they (wisely) made him a regular in Season Two. There was no Season Three. But oh man do I wish there was. Both seasons are on sale for $4.99 on Apple's iTunes, if you want to check them out.
• Kern It! OH MY SWEET LORD! STOP ALLOWING PEOPLE WHO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT TYPOGRAPHY AND KERNING TO MAKE TITLES FOR YOUR TELEVISION SHOW! If this is not the worst I've ever seen... it's certainly in the top ten. SCRIPT TYPEFACES ARE MEANT TO BE CONNECTED! STOP SPACING THEM APART!!! And holy shit! THAT "B" IS SO FAR AWAY IT'S IN ITS OWN FUCKING ZIP CODE!!! GAH! GAAAAAAHHHH!!! My eyes are bleeding...
I simply do not understand how these kind of blaring typography errors flourish. Proper kerning is not rocket science. Watch a fucking YouTube video or something.
• NO TIME TO DIE! Daniel Craig was on SNL this weekend and, just like his previous hosting gig, it's surprising just how good he is at this. Of course he parodied his upcoming Bond flick, No Time To Die ...
I am sad that it's his final James Bond film, but if it means he's going to do more movies like Knives Out, which he was also great at.
And that's a wrap. Enjoy your higher taxes and losing an hour of your day!
Posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2020
For many, many years, I had Max von Sydow staring down at me.
Well, Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon. but, yeah, that guy who has been in so many cool sci-fi movies. The guy who was in Flash Gordon, Conan the Barbarian, Dreamscape, Dune, Judge Dredd, Minority Report, and, of course, he was the Three-Eyed Raven from Game of Thrones (before it turned to shit). Amongst others.
But to me he was mainly Ming from Flash Gordon because this poster was hanging in my bedroom. A poster I still have, by the way...
Unfortunately Max von Sydow passed away yesterday. Given the number of awesome films he's been in over the years, he will be sadly missed but fondly remembered. He even played Blofeld in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again, for heaven's sake.
You can tell that you're getting old when the actors from all the movies which defined your childhood start to die.
Rest in peace, sir.
Posted on Sunday, March 15th, 2020
We all may be in social distance, self-quarantine exile, but you're in good company... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Rise? I both liked and hated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when I first saw it. On one hand, seeing many of the original trilogy characters come back one last time was pretty great, and the special effects were visionary and sublime. On the other hand the script was complete and total shit. JJ Abrams perverting The Force into whatever he wanted it to be in order to fill in a few of the many, many plot holes in his crap story was embarrassing and insulting. And the fact that almost nothing in the movie made sense, had past precedent, or was ever explained, was ten buckets of lame. Nowhere was this put into such vivid relief than in a reply by Elijah Wood(!) to one of several expositional chunks of story left out of the film, but dropped in fucking tweets...
On Friday I got an email from Apple telling me that my digital copy of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was available to watch (a few days early because Disney is doing their part to keep people home). I ordered it when I didn't think I'd make it to the theater to see it... then forgot to cancel after I finally saw it. And so I watched it again. Now I've totally changed my mind on the film, I just outright hate it now. What a shitty, SHITTY way to close things out. My only consolation is that the shitty sequel trilogy was marginally better than the horrendously shitty prequel trilogy when taken as a whole...
Thank God that whole mess is over. Now just let the Skywalker crap finally die like it should have done after Return of the Jedi. As the excellence of the Disney+ series The Mandalorian has shown us, there's far better things to do with the Star Wars Universe than continuously rain shit upon it.
• Do You Want to Build a Snowman? Along with the digital release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Disney also released Frozen 2 three months early. I guess they figured they might as well try to drive up subscription numbers for their streaming service since they've had to shutter most all of their movie/television productions...
I'm going to be perfectly honest... I am not a fan of musicals. Some of them I like more than others, such a The Lion King, for instance. Live-action is more difficult, but tolerable if I like the soundtrack (like Grease and Xanadu, for example). The first Frozen was annoying musically, but I loved the character of Kristoff (wonderfully brought to life by Jonathan Groff). And so I tuned into Frozen 2 to see what his character was up to. Turns out he's acting weird and being made to play the fool while a really tacked-on story unfolds. It's not that this was a bad movie, it's just that I didn't get what I wanted out of it. Still, better than nothing, I guess? Or is it? I can't help but feel that things should have been left alone after the first one. Except... the animation and design is phenomenal, beautiful, mind-blowing stuff.
• Joy! In addition to crap Star Wars and an unneeded animated sequel, I've been delving back into all five seasons of Killjoys. The show always amazes me. It has fairly good (but not extravagant) production values which are complimented by complex stories and multi-faceted, highly interesting characters. Every episode feels as though they made the best possible use of budget and resources while never losing sight of the big picture of the universe they were building...
Smart, funny, violent, serious, disturbing, and all-around good sci-fi, this is the whole package. My amazement only grows as I rewatch it from the beginning (the fifth and final season ended last September). The series follows three "killjoys"... bounty hunters... as they work through their personal demons while trying to skate a moral divide between doing good and doing their job. It started strong. Got better. Kinda dropped off a bit at the end, even though I can't really complain about how it ended. It probably was good to cancel it before the show bottomed out, but I can't help but think there were more stories to tell. And could be more stories still if we get some movies or specials or something.
• MAR10! March 10th is known in Nintendo circles as MAR10 (MARIO) because a number of games and Mario products end up with a discount. One of the games on sale was Yoshi's Crafted World for $20 off, so I snatched it up. The game itself is a simple, fun, and clever platform puzzler which has a cool "handcrafted" look where everything is made from paper, cardboard, and other crafting junk...
Yoshi games have always been fairly easy to play... slightly more difficult to complete at 100%... which makes it a perfect choice for a casual gamer like me who wants a distraction instead of a serious challenge. Oh yeah... it's adorable too.
• Go West! And so... the third season premiere of Westworld is finally here. I had read some seriously mixed reviews of the first four episodes that were made available to the press. I, of course, have only seen the first episode. It was... interesting? I mean, they've completely jettisoned what made the show be the show... i.e. Westworld... so it's pretty much just fake people on a murder-spree in Futureworld, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing...
Watching Delores go full-on Terminator in a wonderfully-imagined future is pretty great... so even if that's all we get, I'll keep watching. The thing about the first season which made it so fantastic is that it was so beautifully plotted and deep in concept. The second season was far shallower, but attempted to compensate by going non-linear with the story to poor effect (the first season played with the timeline amazingly well, so I don't know what happened there). It looks like they are not bothering to play with the timeline this time around... unless this really IS Futureworld and Delores is a GUEST? How mind-bending would that be? Well, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and Jeffrey Wright are phenomenal, regardless, so I'm hoping this reduced 8-episode season is worthy of their talent.
• FIVE! Tonight was also the finale of Avenue 5, a fantastically funny space farce starring Hugh Laurie. I have been loving the show, even when it took a decidedly dark turn last week (in a way that was actually still pretty darn funny). The ending isn't an ending, which would have me furious if not for the fact that HBO has already renewed it for a second season...
It's surprising that HBO is fostering such a delicious series when I know that the twisted humor is not going to appeal to the masses. But it very much appeals to me, which is all I care about. I am really hoping that they can manage to expand on the show for next season instead of retreading what they've already done (something that was already starting to happen at the end). And thank you to HBO also for giving the show such a massive special effects budget. I mean that... the sets are expansive, beautiful, and look like they cost a fortune. Worth a look if you haven't seen it yet.
And that's enough of that... keep washing those hands, everybody.
Posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
I am doing as well as can be expected given everything that's been going on. I occupy my time with lots of work, lots of television, lots of movies, lots of video games, and lots of time with my cats. Basically anything to keep my brain focused on anything except the outside world. Because if I start paying attention I would probably end up with a brain hemorrhage. Especially when our president is going 180º on the coronavirus. First it was a Democratic hoax that's been overblown by the media and going to disappear any day now because he's doing such an amazing job... now it's him knowing it was a pandemic before it was even declared a pandemic... all while none of his followers are calling him out on his crap. I don't expect our government to ever be truthful about anything. We know they're fucking incapable of such a thing. But I don't expect people to roll over and not call politicians out on their bullshit, regardless of which political party they support.
Oh well. I'm getting used to being perplexed by blind party loyalty.
And getting used to getting this crap out of my head by re-watching my favorite entertainment. Last night it was What We Do In The Shadows, which is a movie I love beyond all reason...
Followed by a marathon of the television series, which is SO good because the original creators are still involved (and even make an appearance in an episode!)...
A second season is dropping on April 15th, and I cannot wait to see it.
Tonight I will be watching my second-favorite Hallmark movie of all time, A Winter Princess, which was just released on home video...
Hallmark movies are cheesy and ridiculous to extreme levels which is what makes them so entertaining. I particularly like this version of the holy-shit-it-turns-out-they're-royalty trope because the actor playing the princess (Natalie Hall) actually looks like a frickin' princess. I mean... damn is she brutally gorgeous. The story in this one is tired, but the movie is actually pretty good. Interesting to note that they filmed it at the Big White ski resort (outside of Kelowna, BC) doubling for a ski resort called "Snowden Peak" in Colorado. It is an amazing location and they (surprisingly) make pretty good use of it. From a design perspective, I loved how they made the "Snowden Peak" logo an exact duplicate of the "Big White" logo so that they didn't have to change it out in the long shots. Smart, smart production team there. Anyway... worth a look if they are playing it on the Hallmark Channel, which I have started watching again since they've been working with GLAAD to not be such homophobic idiots.
Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020
Food has gotten so incredibly expensive that I do everything I can to not waste it. Wasting food is literally burning money. But now that trips to the grocery store could come with a COVID-19 bonus and shelves are bare, it's even more critical to not waste any edibles.
Late last night I pulled everything out of my cupboards and organized it by expiration date. Then I pulled everything out of my refrigerator and arranged it by expiration date. Then I worked up a meal plan to try and use as much of it as I can before it goes bad... and freeze everything else. It's making for some eclectic meal planning.
Potato salad with applesauce.
Veggie dogs with yogurt.
Macaroni and cheese with beans.
Tacos and summer salad.
Veggie burger and cheese sticks.
It's like a 5-year-old is creating the menus up in my house. Not that I'm complaining. I'm grateful that I have food to eat. And, one thing's for certain, it will really help me clean out my cupboards and refrigerator/freezer from stuff that's been sitting there for months.
Eventually... when (if?) things ever get back to normal... I'd like to do more meal planning in advance. Right now I go to the store and buy anything I can eat that's on sale, then just do whatever I can with what I end up with in my cart. That's how I end up with these weird orphan ingredients that don't really go anywhere and just take up space for months at a time. Perhaps if I could think about what meals I can make from what's on sale at the moment, I can stick to buying only the stuff I need to be getting.
In other news... yet another childhood hero has left this cold, cruel world. Lyle Waggoner passed away at age 84. I, like oh so many others, remember him as the lucky bastard who got to star opposite the incomparable Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman... my childhood crush and the most phenomenally perfect woman to have ever existed...
Photo from Warner Bros. & DC Comics
How many times did I dream of being Steve Trevor getting wrapped up in her magic lasso as a kid? Entirely too many to be healthy, I'm sure.
Even though his time on The Carol Burnett Show came before Wonder Woman, I didn't see it until it came to reruns years later...
Photo from CBS Television
The series was more memorable to me for Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, and Harvey Korman... but Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner were excellent supporting characters and it's hard to imagine The Carol Burnett Show without them.
The remainder of his career seemed to consist of appearances on shows of the day like The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder She Wrote, and even a spot on The Golden Girls. I don't remember him doing a regular series after, but he must have been keeping busy.
And speaking of keeping busy...
If you're in isolation and looking for something to entertain you, then a good place to start would be visiting the Great Big Story channel at YouTube. It's filled with cool and interesting videos that will lead you down a rabbit hole several hours deep. Here's a few to get you started...
Any of these Great Big Story videos could lead you to Google for more information. I end up there after every new video they release. The last video on the Kryptos statue is something I actually keep up with because I'm interested to see it get solved. Especially since clues are released from time to time, with the latest clue having been dropped back in January. I'll save you from having to Google it by pointing you to a very good Wikipedia article on Kryptos right here.
Stay vigilant, viral warriors!
Posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2020
As I probably mentioned once or twice... or a hundred times... I have killer seasonal allergies. They are pretty harsh in the Fall when all the vegetation is rotting. Summer is marginally annoying, but I don't notice it any more. Winter is my least favorite season, but the absolute best time for my allergies.
Spring... what's happening right now... is my favorite season. I love Spring.
But my allergies are at their absolute worst.
I survive it by taking more Benadryl than is probably healthy. It's the only thing that works despite it making me drowsy. Every day at work it's a fight between the allergy meds putting me to sleep and the caffeine in Coke Zero keeping me awake. At home I stop taking pills and happily cough my head off.
Today I left the office early to work at home because I was already tired, and taking another Benadryl would have done me in. I managed to work through the coughing for a couple hours before my lungs ached and I finally took a Benadryl and a bunch of cough syrup...
...and fell asleep.
Until the alarm to feed the cats... as well as the cats themselves, of course... woke me up at 6:00pm.
After making sure they had their food, I sat down with a grilled cheese sandwich to tide me over until my pizza dough defrosts for dinner. I turn on the television and this commercial is playing...
Isn't that an amazing ad? It's like a Hallmark movie in 30 seconds... but less sappy and more sweet. Man, I love great advertising!
And speaking of Hallmark... I see that they are airing a Christmas movie marathon so people who are self-isolating can re-live memories of a happier time. I've already seen them all, of course, so I'll spend any free time I have playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which releases tomorrow. OR... at midnight tonight, I'm guessing? Yeah, no. The last thing I need to do is become addicted and stay up until 3am playing a game.
Posted on Sunday, April 5th, 2020
The world may be at a standstill, but the blog keeps turning... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Free-Fitty-Free! For the month of April, HBO is streaming some of their most acclaimed content for free, no subscription required. A full list of shows and instructions can be found here and, if you need a recommendation, I'd take a look at Bill Hader's Barry which is a pretty great show. It starts off a little slow... but snowballs into insanity in short order.
• Nice! I love projects like this one...
The world is smaller than we realize. Given current events, it's good to remember that.
• Upload! You know when you see a trailer and it's so good that all you can think is how the actual show couldn't possibly live up to what you're watching... but you are hopeful anyway? That's me watching this...
Greg Daniels is running the show, so I have reason to be hopeful. But still... fingers crossed.
• Disney At Home! A Disney animator is teaming up with Josh Gad to create some Frozen shorts while quarantined at home. The result is pretty great...
The tools make things easier and easier for animators... but they don't mean a lot if the person doing the animating can't tell a story.
• Buttholes! I said a while back that this is the only way I would ever watch Cats. And here's why...
This is the only way I'd ever watch Batman vs. Superman again too.
• One?! So laughable that an abhorrent network devoted to far-right presidential dick-sucking can in any way claim to be serving "One America," but here it is...
Thank heavens that John Oliver is still doing his show while under quarantine at home.
• Munneh! I had $90 in PayPal that wasn't doing anything, so I signed up for a Robinhood account and got their app so I can play the stock market. I'm now worth $108.23, so my market savvy has me well on my way towards becoming a billionaire, I can feel it! — I will try not to forget you, the little people, once I am a part of the 1% and above your petty existence.
And that's all the bullets we have for today.
Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2020
One of my favorite television shows is Schitt's Creek. I was late to the party... didn't discover it until half-way through the second season, but quickly became a fan and went back to see what I had missed. Then the groundbreaking third season happened, and half-way through I fell in love with the show and became a massive fan. Partly because it was just so unexpected that a show about rich people losing their money and having to move into a motel in the bizarre town of Schitt's Creek... but mostly because the characters were so amazing. I liked all of them, but Catherine O'Hara's "Moira" is about as good as television will ever get. Between her outlandish wardrobe, her many wigs, and her insane accent, Moira is way too good to be true, and I can't imagine anyone like her is going to come along any time soon... if ever.
Tonight was the series finale. There are no more episodes after this...
Watching it was bittersweet. I'm happy the show ended on a high note, but sad that it's over.
If you haven't seen Schitt's Creek. you've been missing out. If there's binge-worthy series that's worth occupying your quarantine time, this is it.
Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2020
I watch a lot of television. It's nice to have it as background noise while I work. But lately I've been watching a lot more television because it's pretty much all there is to do under quarantine.
Tonight I watched random stand-up comedy specials on Netflix until it was time for RuPaul's Drag Race. This season has a wet blanket thrown on it thanks to one of the contestants, Sherry Pie, being a psychotic asshole... but they seem to be editing her out of the show as best they can, so there's that. Tonight was all the contestants doing their best Madonna impersonation, and many of them were really good.
For whatever reason, the episode made me think back to when Sharon Needles and PhiPhi O'hara did a lipsync battle to It's Raining Men by The Weather Girls. I went to YouTube to see if somebody posted it (of course somebody had) and was surprised to see that Geri Halliwell, formerly of the Spice Girls, did a cover of the song back in 2001...
It always amazes me how I can keep running across music that I never knew existed.
Anyway... here's that lipsync battle I was looking for...
Sharon Needles went on to win the entire season and became one of my favorite queens. Partly because she had big entertainment value... but mostly because she was in a relationship with Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, and who couldn't love that? Sadly, that relationship ended in 2013, but we'll always have the memories.
And now I guess we're back to our regular scheduled programming...
Posted on Sunday, April 12th, 2020
I MAY BE GOING INSANE IN ISOLATION, BUT DON'T THINK THAT WILL STOP ME FROM BLOGGING... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Live? From New York! I am continuously impressed with the many television shows that have been carrying on during quarantine... namely the late-night shows like Trever Noah, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon. What was unexpected was that Saturday Night Live would do a show. I didn't find it particularly funny overall, but I was impressed that they managed to do it at all. The best part was the opening credits where they even got the band in on things before Tom Hanks' monologue...
The most successful bit was Weekend Update which doesn't really require direct interaction... and they even got Alec Baldwin to reprise President Trump as a call-in. Pretty great. The most surprising bit was a tribute to longtime SNL music coordinator Hal Willner by cast members past and present. Yet another person having fallen to Coronavirus-related health problems. Thanks to all the shows that are carrying on for continuing to entertain us during these strange and difficult times.
• Quarantine! Every. Single. Day. I wonder what it would have been like if the Coronavirus pandemic had happened while I was taking care of my mom. I'd like to think that something positive could have come of it...
Maybe at the beginning of mom's decline it could have. But near the end before I had to find a facility to care for her? I cannot fathom it. There's just no way. And if the outbreak had happened while she was staying at the hospital or at the facility? I honestly don't know. All I doo know is that I wouldn't have been able to visit. Heaven only knows if she would have survived this, because both places are hot-spots for outbreaks.
• Animal Cursing! I usually don't have a lot of time to play video games. Even in quarantine I have television, social media, work, housecleaning, and chores that need to be done. But ever since Animal Crossing came along, all of that has been taking a back seat to working on my island. I'm resculpting the landscape. I'm decorating my house and the exteriors. I'm crafting tons of junk to make my island exactly how I like it. Problem is the "Island Designer" tools are total fucking insanity to use. I thought the regular tools were bad... I seriously had no idea. The Island Designer tools are absolute shit. Wherever you THINK you're aiming, you're really not. Sometimes while paving pathways my character will randomly flip a 180º and hit BEHIND me. WTF?!? I keep thinking that surely I'll get the hang of it, but no. You can't get the hang of it. Add to that the stupid-ass "Bunny Day" bullshit that's plaguing the game lately, and I spend a lot of time resisting the urge to scream obscenities at my television (which I would except it scares my cats). But the worst thing? Finding out that where you placed stuff when the game was first starting is not where you want it once you get playing. All my houses and buildings have to be moved (1 day a piece), you can't move the Resident Service Center at all, and all my bridges have to be demolished (1 day) then rebuilt (1 day)...
It's going to take forever to get everything straightened out. And... um... don't mind my Bunny Day dress and hat. I have to do something with all those fucking eggs that are popping up everywhere.
• Cursing Again! "Supreme Court Blocks Extended Voting In Wisconsin, Forces Voters Out To The Polls"...
I mean, holy shit. The "vote" has not been representative of the people in a very, very long time. It's outright manipulated to provide exactly the results that the people actually running this country want to see. We are not free... we're governed. Sometimes governed to death.
• Mail the Vote! As you may have heard, the US Post Office is in serious crisis. Our government is bailing out all kinds of businesses, but has ignored their cries for help... probably because the Trump Administration knows that if people end up voting by mail and don't have to jump through hoops to vote, they're fucked. Washington State has is all vote-by-mail, and I haven't been to a polling station in years. So convenient to be able to vote whenever I have time instead of trading to a voting station and standing in line! If you want to help the Post Office survive, go buy a sheet of stamps. The post office is an essential service. It costs what, 55¢ to mail a letter anywhere in the country? Do you know how much it woulds cost to do that with UPS or Fed-Ex? At least $15... probably closer to $20 if the destination is in a non-business, rural location. If everybody goes out and buys a sheet of stamps, maybe we can help the USPS weather this storm. There's plenty of cool designs to choose from, including this awesome set with military service dogs!
• Vegas Memories! Las Vegas is a city I visit often. I loathe to go there on my own for work because it feels like one of the loneliest places on earth to be. But it's a fantastic place to go with friends because there's so much to see and do. Usually by April I've been at least twice and end up going 5-8 times annually. This year I likely won't be going at all. It's strange how a city I both love and hate has been on my mind so much lately. Probably because I've had so many good times there when hanging out with people I care about. Right now I'd give just about anything to be pounding Long Island's and eating nachos with friends at Nacho Daddy...
Maybe in 2021.
• Watching the Watchmen! I think I've linked to stories by David Bordwell in the past. His site provides thoughtful and interesting analysis of film, and his latest article takes a look at my favorite show of 2019, HBO's Watchmen...
A really good read... even if you have no interest in the series. Hopefully it will make you want to be interested in the series though! It really is a brilliant bit of television.
And that's my bullets for today. Come back next Sunday for more bullets you didn't know you couldn't live without!
Posted on Sunday, April 19th, 2020
Life in isolation may be better than no life, but your life is about to get measurably better... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Dough! I finally broke down and baked a couple loaves of my beloved SourJo bread. It was too hard going without, so I used the last of the flour I had been saving and went for it. The result was as delicous as it was beautiful...
I have decided to slice and freeze the pan-loaf so I can thaw it out as toast when I need a bread fix. The round loaf, however? That I'll be eating in copious chunks with butter and jam! I sure hope that flour, sugar, and yeast come back to grocery store shelves sometime soon.
• Various Corn! Oh look... John Oliver is back to drop some truth on the outrageous levels of stupid shit that have been plaguing us as of late...
The Below Deck: Sailing Yacht drop-in was particularly wonderful for those of us who are fans of the show.
• Sucks So Good! One of my favorite movies of all time is What We Do In The Shadows. It's hilariously funny in all the right ways. It spawned a television serious on FX that was every bit as well-done and hysterical. And now they've started their second season...
I was late to the television series (I didn't know it even existed), but now I'm crazy for it. I pre-ordered the entire season at iTunes because I just know that I will be watching them over and over again. Highest possible recommendation.
• Moo! Cows are truly some of the most gentle and beautiful animals. Part of why I can’t bring myself to eat them...
THAT is one content kitty right there!
• Color! This is probably the coolest thing I've seen all year. A series of RGB colorspace books which depict every color imaginable...
Image attributed to Brittany Schall
Photo by Vegard Kleven
• 'MURICA! And let's wrap this up with a shut-out to the brave nurses confronting IGNORANT STUPID FUCKING ASSHOLES protesting lockdown BY BARRICADING STREETS DURING A PANDEMIC WHEN AMBULANCES MAY NEED TO GET THROUGH...
Two nurses, who have witnessed first hand the toll Covid is taking in Colorado, stood up and peacefully counter protested. Here is how they were treated. I had join them.pic.twitter.com/iJnNcqZxSv— Marc Zenn (@MarcZenn) April 19, 2020
I am so fucking sick and tired of this idiotic trash that I want to vomit. You can read about it here.
And that's all she wrote for bullets this Sunday.
Posted on Tuesday, April 21st, 2020
Showtime's brilliant series Episodes, starring Matt LeBlanc (Joey of Friends fame) was added to Netflix back in 2018 but I only recently started watching it from the beginning. I had Showtime for the first two seasons, but since that was a while ago, I thought it best to start from the beginning and power my way through all five seasons. Tonight I finally got to the last episode.
I had forgotten just how funny and depraved it was...
So much so that I was sad when I got to the final episode. At least they wrapped it up pretty well. If you haven't seen it yet and have Netflix, then it might be worth your valuable time.
And now, because I have nothing better to blog about, I figure I might as well catch up on my latest meals from Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon!
19. Bean & Cheese Taquitos with Tomatillo Salsa & Sour Cream
I fell in love with tomatillos in a previous Martha Stewart recipe box, and automatically order any dish that has them. This is essentially the same meal as the quesadillas I had weeks ago, but rolled into taquitos. I should have made them into quesadillas, because the taquitos are a heinous mess. All the filling runs out while they bake. But still... fantastic meal and super delicious!
20. Risotto Primavera with Asparagus, Leeks & Peas.
Nothing great. And the instructions were really confusing... plus I have no idea why they have it served on a bed of greasy spinach, which was kinda gross. Won't be making this one again.
21. Coconut-Peanut Rice Noodles with Blistered Zucchini & Green Beans.
This is the first time I ordered a duplicate recipe... something I wasn't planning on doing except... well... quarantine and not wanting to go to the grocery store. It was their AMAZING Coconut-Peanut Rice Noodles with Blistered Zucchini & Green Beans that I loved so much the first time. THIS TIME when I made it, I held back half of one of the Sriracha packets because I felt the full amount overwhelmed the peanut butter flavor. FLAWLESS! PERFECT! AMAZINGLY BALANCED NOW! When I make this on my own, I will switch to blistered green beans only. I am getting a bit tired of the way Martha puts zucchini in everything, and I think it lacks the flavor that green beans have.
22. Fresh Fettuccine Alfredo in a Hurry with Baby Kale Salad.
I hate to say it, but this entire meal was kinda embarrassing. First of all... this was a lot longer process and a lot more difficult to make than ACTUAL FETTUCCINE ALFREDO! The real recipe is fettuccine noodles with butter and grated parmesan AND THAT'S IT! If you make it any other way, IT'S NOT FUCKING FETTUCCINE ALFREDO! No cream. No lemon and garlic and other extra shit. It's parmesan and butter. Period. And I would know... I've eaten at the restaurant where it was invented several times when visiting Rome! But this? Just no. Instead of fettuccine noodles, there I was cutting up pasta sheets AGAIN. Instead of a load of parmesan, you get two tiny squares to grate up. Instead of butter you get mascarpone cheese, garlic, and LEMON?!? The result is a bland, senseless pasta fiasco that should NEVER be called "Fettuccine Alfredo." Luckily I had some extra parmesan to throw on top for SOME added flavor. And don't get me started on the Baby Kale Salad. Yet AGAIN Martha wants you to toss the shit with oil. I am so sick of fucking greasy lettuce in these meals that I couldn't stomach the thought of it. And so I dumped a bunch of French dressing on top to help cover up the kale. ATTENTION MARTHA STEWART... OTHER SALAD DRESSINGS EXIST OTHER THAN OIL. HOLY SHIT!!! From now on I will be looking at the recipes very carefully instead of just clicking stuff that looks good. I thought this was going to be a simplified one-pot recipe for Alfredo or something. Turns out it wasn't even the dish advertised.
And I guess that's the end of that.
Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2020
Yeah, we're all still in isolation quarantine, but there's a bright spot in the darkness... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Cool! I've been to the Space Needle dozens of times over the years. They have cut-away images you can look at, so I already know what's inside and how it works, but this
One of the most famous features of the structure has been the "Sky City Revolving Restaurant" which closed back in 2017 when they rennovated everything. I assumed that it would be open again by now, but I just checked and there's still no revolving restaurant to be found. Instead the space is still "The Loupe" which is a revolving platform with a glass floor. I guess that's more of a draw because more people can enjoy it? The restaurant was always so expensive that I've only ever been there once.
• Stuck! Lately I've had a hard time getting the song Adore You by Harry Styles out of my head. For the past week I've been playing it several times a day...
I wish I knew why certain songs stick with me at certain times. I mean, I liked Adore You when it was released, but now I addicted to it or something. I'm trying to replace it with the latest by Pet Shop Boys, but it isn't working so far...
Amazing how the boys are still able to kill it after all these years. Their music is always good.
• Driven! I bought Western Digital drives for my NAS because my past experience with them has been excellent. Now I find out that the pricey new drives I bought for my NAS may be low-quality pieces of shit that will likely fail sooner than expected because the way I use the data on my NAS is incongruent with the way the drive technology WD employs was designed to be used. I have 8TB drives which WD says are using the correct technology... but the part number has the "EFAX" suffix which designates cheap-ass shit, so who knows?
I am so sick and tired of companies like this not giving a shit about their customers. And yet this is the way businesses are run now. They sneak in low-quality shit, charge the same price as usual-quality shit, and the customer never need know they've been screwed until their data is lost. And at that point it's like "Oh... too bad... so sorry... if you're in warranty, we'll send you a replacement shitty drive... if you're not under warranty, go fuck yourself!" Because in today's disposible society, it's cheaper to replace shit with more shit until the warranty runs out than to actually make good quality shit in the first place.
• Flight Attendants in Quarantine! Ha!
Make no mistake, flight attendants have a really tough job. Trapped on a plane at work with a bunch of people... some of which treat them badly. Hopefully they can laugh along with the rest of us at something like this.
• In Control! Every time I start up Netflix there's a new show being shoved on me called Too Hot To Handle and I IMMEDIATELY start singing "Too hot to handle, too cold to hold, they're called the Ghostbusters and they're in control!" Say what you like about Bobby Brown, but the guy knows how to sing a hook that gets stuck in your head!
No idea what Too Hot To Handle is about. Looks like it's yet another show like Temptation Island where you win by not giving into temptation of all the sexy people prancing around? Whatever. Really not interested enough to investigate.
• Foxy! Aren't foxes the most amazing animals?
I will never admit how many times I've watched this.
• After! I loved the first season of Ricky Gervais's After Life and remember feeling a bit lost when it ended because it was only six episodes. Now, at long last, Netflix has released another six episodes for the second season (NSFW trailer follows)...
Even better than the first season. A shoe-in for my "Best of Television 2020" list. It's all at once hysterically funny and agonizingly sad. Postman Pat is one of my favorite television characters ever. Which is next-level funny if you know that Postman Pat is a British cartoon with an unrelated character with the same name from the 1980's...
Compare this charming cartoon to the character from the show and it's a bit disturbing... but in the best possible way.
And now I guess I'll go back to doing as much nothing as possible before work tomorrow.
Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2020
Last night I was looking at movies on iTunes and saw that there were some titles available to RENT for $20. To RENT!
Then I realized that they were all movies which had just been released to theaters right before the lockdowns started. They are being shoved to home video early at a premium price in the hopes that they can reclaim some of the money they missed out on. None of which I would pay $20 to see... but heaven only knows that there are movies I'd pay $20 to see. Like Black Widow which keeps getting pushed back.
Of course I'd much rather pay $0 to see a movie.
Which is why I'm always looking through services like HBO and Amazon Prime.
Much to my delight, Amazon Prime has a documentary that I didn't even know existed... Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary...
As one of my all-time favorite movies, I was keen to see this because so many of the people behind the film are in it (including Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver).
Sadly, my favorite part of the movie... Alan Rickman... had passed away and couldn't participate...
His very dry humor was hilarious, and he has one of the most touching scenes in the entire film. Fortunately, there are others in the documentary who remember his work there. He was Sir Alexander Dane! I love that.
Never Surrender lead to my watching a documentary on Susan Oliver called The Green Girl, which was absolutely fascinating (and has a short appearance by Betty White!). Unbelievable how shitty she was treated by Hollywood...
The Green Girl then lead to another documentary called United We Fan (about fan campaigns to save canceled television shows), which was also interesting...
And THAT lead to my watching yet another great documentary called Geek, and You Shall Find...
And then I happened upon With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, which was as interesting as you'd think it would be...
At that point I could have watched a dozen more, but ended up going to bed instead so I could stare at the ceiling and not sleep.
Definitely getting my money's worth out of Amazon Prime this month!
Posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2020
I'm bored out of my mind without being able to hang out with my friends, but excitement awaits me... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Nadiya! One of my favorite Great British Bakeoff contestants, Nadiya Hussain, has a new Netflix series out... Nadiya's Time to Eat. Not all of it is vegetarian, but I've gotten some good ideas from her show. Including this gem...
Sounds amazing, right? And how charming is she with her lovely British accent? Nadiya's got some cool ideas for quick and easy meals that makes her show a great thing to watch. Just keep in mind that the British terms for certain foods can be different ("caster sugar" there is "fine baker's sugar" here), and sometimes products (such as Double Cream, which is 48% milkfat, for example) may not even exist where you live (the thickest I can get is Whipping Cream, which is only 36% milkfat. Also? Nadiya provides all oven temperatures in Celsius, so you'll need to convert to Fahrenheit.
• Facebook "Standards!" It's gotten to the point where I can't understand the point of Facebook any more. They are so wildly inconsistent with the posts they ban that you can't really know what is acceptable or not. Take for instance this tweet I reposted that is clearly a joke on all the "5G causes the Coronavirus" conspiracy theorists...
Meanwhile, some of the anti-vaxers and homeopaths and flat earthers and other morons are posting shit that is ACTUALLY MISINFORMATION THAT CAN CAUSE HARM and have free reign? Dafuq? I have posts taken down more and more lately, and in no case did I agree with the decision or even see why they took it down in the first place. Facebook has no concept of context or humor and are acting like total dipshits with this ban-hammer crap.
• Love Is Love! One of the members of my "Bible Study for Non-Christians" group brought up the movie Road to Edmond, which they decided to watch because it sharply divided Christians who saw it. None of the rest of us had heard of it, but it was free to watch on Amazon Prime Streaming, so we all agreed to take a look so we could have a discussion about it. I honestly don't know what my takeaway is. I almost stopped watching 20 minutes in because one of the characters was driving me crazy and the non-budget and amateurish acting was almost too much to take. But I stuck with it because I didn't want to be left out of the conversation with my group. Turns out that everything was building to something, not everything is what it seems, and it's actually a fairly remarkable film. I definitely understand why some people are completely incensed with it... heaven only knows there's enough to provoke that reaction. But I also understand why some people have fallen in love with it too. As I said, I honestly don't know how I feel about it... maybe I'll have more perspective once I've discussed it. All I definitely know is that I love the closing credits song as much as I could possibly love any song... it's Love is Love by Trey Pearson.
Trey Pearson has a lot of great songs, this one is called Silver Horizon and is every bit as good...
And if not for Road to Edmond, I likely never would have found it.
• Download! Boo! BOOOOOOOO! AMAZON'S GREAT NEW SHOW, UPLOAD, ENDS ON A HUGE CLIFFHANGER! And what are the odds that they won't renew it? Fuck all the television studios who refuse to show a complete story in a season. All this does is fuck over fans of the show when they cancel it.
BOOOOOO! And what's so frustrating is that they didn't need the cliffhanger. It's just lazy writing, and NO show should end a season on a cliffhanger unless they have the next season already started. So rage-inducing. If Amazon cancels Upload I'll be more furious than usual when this happens.
• After! Somebody edited together the underlaying narrative of grief that runs through one of my favorite shows so far this year... and it's almost unbearable to watch. What makes After Life so amazing is how it tempers the grief with humor. Without the humor though? It's a serious exploration of the human condition. Spoilers, obviously...
Ricky Gervais really knocked it out of the park with this show. He's already said that he's been so touched by the outpouring of love for the show that he's working on a third season. And, oh well yeah, HE DOESN'T END HIS SERIES ON A FUCKING CLIFFHANGER BECAUSE HE KNOWS THERE'S NO GUARANTEE THAT THERE WILL BE A NEXT SEASON! He's talented enough to come up with a way to start a new season without cliffhangers.
• Suess Raps! These videos of a guy rapping Dr. Suess over Dr. Dre beats is total genius...
I hesitate to guess how many times he had to practice these before getting this good.
• Better! TIME IS JUST A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT TO KEEP YOU FROM DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WANT TO DO IT! WELL SCREW THAT! I AM IN CONTROL OF MY OWN DESTINY! SO... MORNING DRINKING at 9:00AM IN MY UNDERWEAR WITH CHEETOS AND TELEVISION, BABY! — MY DAY IS BETTER THAN YOUR DAY!
So how was your day?
And that's that for bullets on this fine Sunday in quarantine.
Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2020
YOU YIELD TO TRAFFIC IN THE CIRCLE. It's that simple. That's the only rule. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand it. If there's a car already in the traffic circle, you wait until it's passed before entering. And yet...
25% of the time... at least 25% of the time... I run into somebody who doesn't yield.
Like yesterday when I was driving home. And of course the guy is pissed at me even though he was 100% in the wrong for cutting in front of me instead of yielding like he should have. And I honestly don't get the mentality. I'm supposed to just slam on the brakes in the middle of the traffic circle and back up traffic to let people in? That's the complete opposite of how it's supposed to work.
I continue to wade my way through the massive list of movies and shows I've flagged to watch so I can see if there's anything good on TV. My latest obsession is Plan Coeur (aka The Hook Up Plan) on Netflix. It's a French romcom that has its fill of stupid moments, but is otherwise fantastic. The characters are all beautifully realized and you want to care about them even when they aren't at their best.
Because it's French, I have to watch with English subtitles, which adds another level of amusement to the show...
Most of the time, the show is smartly written and has clever one-off lines throughout to bring the funny...
And, of course, it's French, so the romantic moments are flawlessly orchestrated...
What really took me by surprise is the music, which is haunting and beautiful. It's practically another character in the series and makes even mundane moments something to be savored...
I was compelled to track down the composer, which is Frédéric Magnon, and became an instant fan. When Elsa shows her sister her new apartment, I had to rewind the scene and play it over and over because it's just that good...
The entire soundtrack is fantastic and worth hunting down (Amazon Prime Unlimited has it).
So... if you're looking for a show to binge while you're stuck at home, I highly recommend giving The Hook Up Plan a try. Both series of the show are available on Netflix...
As much as I loved the show and want to see a third series, I almost think I'd rather they left things where they were at in the finale. It was the perfect way to end things even though you'll definitely be wanting to know what happens next.
Which is what makes great television, isn't it?
Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2020
I'm not "running out of things to watch," but I am getting bored with the massive amount of stuff that's available to watch. Binging Plan Coeur (The Hook Up Plan) yesterday really made me want to revisit some of my favorite French films, but it's tough to work and read subtitles at the same time, and I can't afford to lose the hours like I did yesterday. I thought that I would instead put on some of my favorite Japanese anime since I was once fairly fluent in the language and "it's just cartoons," but that didn't work out at all. My Japanese comprehension is so out of practice now that I have to stop and think about what's being said, which is actually more distracting than reading subtitles.
I was lamenting the idea of starting in on another Netflix series when a friend in a Zoom meeting mentioned that they've been watching a lot of YouTube videos. This seemed like an excellent idea, because that's somewhere below mindless entertainment, and the YouTube app for my AppleTV will just keep playing them one-after-the-other all night long!
When I asked for suggestions, the first one out of their mouth was Mr. Beast. I was going to take a pass because the only thing I had ever heard about the guy was that he drops a lot of homophobic slurs, but my friend said "He's done so many good things," and I was intrigued.
At first I was just going to start at his first video and run through them all, but he's been doing this for six years(!) and most of his earliest videos are just him playing video games and stuff. He then made a slew of videos speculating on the wealth of other YouTubers and making fun of other YouTubers. Then he went through a phase of counting to really high numbers... reading the entire dictionary... and doing other time-consuming and inane stunts.
Yeah. No thanks.
But then things started getting interesting about two years ago.
Mr. Beast started giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars (which he gets from sponsorship and branding deals). He'd give somebody $10,000 for winning a video game challenge. He'd tip a server $20,000. He'd give random subscribers to his channel huge amounts of cash. And he also started doing crazy stuff like trashing his friend's car then give them a new car... buying every billboard in his city... spending 24 hours in prison... and having his friends do random challenges for huge cash prizes.
I began to see his appeal. His stunts are genuinely interesting.
My favorite stunt he pulled was buying a house then ordering a pizza from Dominos. He offered the pizza delivery guy $2,000 if he would help them go shopping for stuff to move into the house "for a friend," then he gave the fully furnished house to the delivery guy after they were done. Watch the video. It's pretty great...
After a while you start really getting invested in the lives of his friends. Poor Cameron kept losing challenge after challenge and never won anything. You really started to feel sorry for the guy because he was constantly made fun of. Then, finally, he won one and I was far more happy for him than I had a right to be...
Yeah, this is not highbrow entertainment, but it is entertaining. I've certainly seen worse uses of time and money on YouTube.
After my Mr. Beast marathon, I started catching up on all the YouTubers I follow but have neglected over the past several months. Like Unbox Therapy, who unboxed Apple's SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLAR WHEELS for their MacPro computer so you don't have to. It looks to be an oddly unsatisfying experience...
Don't worry. Eventually he made a skateboard out of the wheels.
Yahtzee at Escapist's Zero Punctuation took a look at Animal Crossing: New Horizons and it's oddly comforting in its raw predictability...
John Kirkwood made cheese & onion pasties... something I am dying to make and will attempt soon, because it's like a gorgeous blend of some of my favorite things...
Ryan at ScreenRant unleashed another hilarious pitch meeting...
Two amazing thinkers (who just happen to be brilliant comedians) discuss atheism and other deep topics in a fascinating conversation...
And lastly there's Johnny Harris, who actually spent his valuable time looking into flerfers (insert eye-roll)...
After all that, I was ready to start watching regular ol' television again, and started in on Ryan Murphy's latest... Hollywood... which is currently airing on Netflix. Not exactly sure this is going to be my thing, but it sure looks like it was expensive to make.
Posted on Sunday, May 10th, 2020
XXX, but XXX... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• TAIKAAAAAAA! And lo did an angel descend from the heavens and declare that Taika Waititi will be writing and directing a Star Wars movie, and it was good. I frickin' adore Taika. What We Do In the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok (Korg!)... everything the guy touches turns to gold whether he's writing, directing, or acting. As if that's not enough, he just seems like a genuinely smart, talented, funny, interesting, and exceedingly nice person...
We got a taste of Taika in the Star Wars universe when he directed an episode of The Mandelorian (and provided the voice of IG-11). Now he's bringing us more Thor (Thor: Love & Thunder), a new Flash Gordon, a new Time Bandits, plus a new Star Wars. Naturally, I couldn't possibly be more thrilled that he's working on projects I desperately want to see.
• Swoop! I love stories like this...
Birds are awesome.
• BMO! I had no plans... none to invest any more money in television. Especially HBO Max, which has nothing to offer me. Well... almost nothing...
BMO is one of the best parts of Adventure Time and I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to see where they take the character.
• PATATJES MET! I found this article on A Global Taxonomy of French Fry Dips to be especially enlightening. I, of course, choose fries with Dutch mayo. It's the only way to fry.
• Wood! Watching Netflix's Hollywood left me mildly entertained, but I can't stop thinking that they're trying to do a good thing badly while missing a bigger opportunity. Revisionist history is a fine line to walk. You either go for broke, rip up the rulebook, and grab your reimagining of history unapologetically by the throat... or you float through history making random changes that are all rainbows and cotton candy but ultimately don't mean anything to anybody but you. Quentin Tarantino *IS* revisionist history cinema, and Inglourious Basterds is a genius-level event of just how powerful a tool it can be. Ryan Murphy's Hollywood is just whispy fluff in a genre wrapper that "what-ifs" real events to mild effect. The final episode is just ridiculous with its pie-in-the-sky over-the-top goofiness. THAT BEING SAID... holy cats is Jim Parsons good in this thing! His character is a predatory monster which perfectly illustrates how power in the wrong hands can lead to a nightmare of a human being. I am guessing his take on Rock Hudson's manager is based on a real person who did these horrible things, and that's a really scary thought...
Good on you, Mr. Parsons. I'm excited to see where you take your post-Big Bang Theory career next.
• Advice! I generally roll my eyes at all these "lists of life advice" that make the rounds of the internet a couple times a year. But this one, titled 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice is pretty great and some of them (such as "A vacation + a disaster = an adventure" are exceptional. Well worth a read.
• Monk! Okay... this is pretty cool. I kept hoping and hoping that we'd get a Monk movie or two so we could see what he was up to now...
And now I just want a Monk movie even more than I did.
• Remember! And, lastly, just read this. There are some remarkable people doing wonderful things in the middle of our current crisis. They should be recognized and appreciated.
And that's a wrap on Bullet Sunday. At least for today.
Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2020
I finally watched First Lady Michele Obama's Becoming on Netflix.
Love her or don't love her, there's no denying that she's a fascinating person...
I really enjoyed the show (and her book) even though I've not always been a fan. Some of the things she's been party to I've vehemently disagreed with, as I think they've been an attempt to do a good thing badly. Take, for example the new "Nutrition Facts" label. It's meant to help people eat healthier. But ultimately it's just another expense and hardship for small business food manufacturers who have to invest a rather large chunk of money into something which is ultimately not worth it.
The calories font is bigger. How does that help? They tweaked a few values. How does that help? People who want to eat unhealthy foods already know that they are eating unhealthy foods, and they're not going to change their mind because the calories font is bigger. Stuff like this is what Democrat detractors can point to and, with good reason, say that they make things harder on American businesses.
But then she also worked very hard to get kids healthier meals in school and a bunch of other wonderful things, so you gotta have perspective. In the end I can say that, if nothing else, I believe that Michele Obama was a patriot who honestly thought that she was doing what's best for the people she served. Can't say that about too many political figures.
Posted on Friday, May 15th, 2020
Nobody was more surprised than I was how much I loved the new Star Trek: Discovery series that CBS All Access unleashed on their streaming platform. The first season was beautifully realized, deliciously twisty, and featured some of the best acting to ever appear in Star Trek. It truly felt like something fresh and new, and I was thrilled to experience it (even if I had to pay extra money to see it). I hadn't loved a Star Trek series this much since the original.
The second season was a bit of a disappointment to me. It featured a convoluted time travel narative instead of the shocking turns we got in the first season. Even so, I still found a lot of things to enjoy about it. And by far the biggest thing? We got to see Spock before his tenure under Captain Kirk. It was when he was serving as First Officer to Captain Christopher Pike... which Trek fans know from the fantastic two-part Original Series show: The Menagerie. Pike was wonderfully realized by Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn turned in a fantastic appearance as Number One.
But it was Ethan Peck as Spock that made me desperately want to see more of their adventures aboard The Enterprise...
Courtesy of ViacomCBS and CBS All Access Television
And today we got the news that we actually will be seeing more of them...
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will pick up with the crew where their appearance on Star Trek: Discovery left off.
And so... a great time to be a Star Trek fan. We've got a third season of Discovery on the way... along with the Michelle Yeoh spin-off Star Trek: Section 31. And if that wasn't enough, the intriguing Star Trek: Picard has been renewed for a second season and we're getting a new animated show called Star Trek: Below Decks. And now Strange New Worlds too!
I dunno about you, but I'm thrilled to be getting some good news for once.
I think we're due.
UPDATE: And, just like that, we're back to the Twilight Zone as President Trump's "Space Force" unveiled its new flag...
I mean, it's not my imagination... that's the Starfleet logo on the Space Force flag, right?
Bad enough this country is going into even bigger debt over something so stupid... but to steal the logo from Star Trek? The insanity of it all makes my head hurt.
Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2020
This past weekend was about as unproductive a weekend as I've had in a very long time. I didn't do much of anything. I think the long weeks of not being able to hang out with friends or, you know, enjoy life, are starting to get to me.
What also gets to me? Going to watch The Abyss and finding that my DVD will no longer play despite still being in flawless condition. The good news is that HBO has it playing, so I was able to watch it after all. The bad news is that I was sent into a total panic at the thought of my massive DVD and Blu-Ray collection deteriorating into unplayability.
I've re-purchased or converted or as much of my collection as possible into digital. But so many things... so many, many, things aren't available digitally. Some movies (like The Abyss and True Lies) inexplicably never made it past DVD. So if you want to own them, that's all you got. As for television shows? Forget about it. Can't be converted, and a huge number of them not only never made it past DVD... but they are out of print and unavailable.
If my old television DVDs become unplayable, then that's all she wrote.
And so I've taken a dip into the quasi-legal arena of backing up my irreplaceable DVDs with digital copies. I say "quasi-legal" because technically breaking the DVD encryption is legally discouraged. But what the fuck else can I do? I can't buy them digitally. All I can do is buy yet another DVD copy that's likely just as old and deteriorating as the one I already own because it's gone out of print.
Like one of my favorite shows, Kitchen Confidential.
I can't believe that the show was canceled after 4 episodes. All 13 that they filmed were dementedly hilarious and featured a stellar cast (including Bradley Cooper, John Cho, and Frank Langella). It's a total bargain at $15 on DVD, but if the DVDs are becoming unplayable, it's a waste of $15.
And so I've ripped digital backups of DVDs I already own because it's all I can do to preserve what I purchased. And if FOX eventually comes to their senses and releases it digitally? Of course I'll re-buy it. I love the show and want to support everybody who worked on it.
Even if I am a bit bitter about supporting the studio which canceled it.
And speaking of bitter...
Like they always say... if you can't stand the heat, don't go into the volcano.
Posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2020
You may be stuck in the house, but you won't be lacking for televised entertainment... because a very special Streaming Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Big Eden! For better or worse, small-town rural America has been saddled with a shiny veneer of down-home values and a sense of strong community. And, having lived that my entire life, it feels an accurate way of looking at things. But this image kind of glosses over the general bigotry and specific homophobia that seems to permeate it all. Big Eden is a movie which shows what happens if it didn't permeate it all...
This is such a warm, charming, and wonderful movie. I don't want to spoil a thing, but suffice to say that it's flawlessly realized cinema. After finishing it, I had to watch it all over again because there are dozens of tiny moments happening in the backgrounds by actors performing at the top of their game. This won a slew of LGBTQ awards, but I'd hardly call it a "gay movie." It's just a movie about a place that you wish existed.
• The Ultimate Gift! I had ZERO expectations for yet another "spoiled rich brat loses his fortune and turns his life around" movie... but The Ultimate Gift was a really good take on the genre...
James Garner is a multi-billionaire with a truly horrible family. This includes a spoiled grandson who spends money like it was water and hasn't worked a day in his life. Everybody gets short-changed in the will when James Garner dies, but the grandson is given a second chance at an inheritance. All he has to do is complete a series of challenges which will win him gifts... ending with "The Ultimate Gift" after all the challenges have been met. But the challenges are not easy and are designed to push him into being a better person. Yes, there are some over-the-top moments to create artificial angst and drama but, overall, I walked away really enjoying this one.
• Hide Away! (Josh Lucas, James Cromwell • 2012) — This movie has polarizing reviews. Some people hated it. Some people loved it. I absolutely loved it. Josh Lucas shows up at a small coastal town and buys a beat up old sailboat to refurbish. The entire movie is a metaphor for rebuilding your life after tragedy, and has been filmed beautifully. I mean really beautifully...
Some of the reviews were screaming "NOTHING HAPPENED IN 85 MINUTES OF RUN-TIME... NOTHING!!!" To which I can only respond "Maybe everything happened and you just weren't paying attention?" The movie 100% relies on Josh Lucas selling it, and he does not falter. From beginning to end, his nuanced performance and commitment to the story were pretty incredible. The ending takes a little thought to process, but was well-handled, I think.
• Kid Brother! This was one of those films where I pretty much had to trust Amazon's recommendation because I would have never given it a second look had I just seen the poster on the Prime Streaming page. A reclusive janitor's life takes a very different turn when his kid brother comes to stay with him...
Do not let the trailer fool you, there is some really good subtle humor and great performances. Where did Alan Longstreet come from and why hasn't he been in like A HUNDRED MOVIES by now? Clever, charming, and some real heart, Kid Brother is worth a look.
• The Lovebirds! Amazon doesn't have an exclusive on enjoyable movies. Netflix just dropped The Lovebirds, starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjani. I'm big fans of both, so I was planning on tuning in even if it looks kinda slapsticky and goofy...
And, don't get me wrong, it's absolutely slapsticky and goofy... but it's not without its charms, and I thought Nanjani and Rae did an incredible job of selling it. When all is said and done, it's a cute, sweet film that manages to overcome its weaknesses. It also take place in New Orleans, which is a definite plus.
• Mythic Quest: Quarantine! And, lastly, a lot of television shows are doing "quarantine" episodes or finding other imaginative ways to carry on. Late-night talk shows are thriving in the age of COVID-19. But none of them... none of them... can compare to the sheer brilliance that they came up with for an all new episode of Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet...
The trailer shows none of the ingenuity which makes the episode so bloody brilliant, which is actually pretty great because it doesn't spoil anything... including an amazing finale. I really enjoyed the first season of the show from Apple+... this is just icing on the cake.
And that's all the movie bullets I got. Stay safe, everybody.
Posted on Thursday, May 28th, 2020
The two days it took to build flower beds, fill pots, and plant flowers seems to be paying off. From what I can tell, only one plant died and all the rest of them are doing really well. I should probably weed everything again, but I'm in no hurry for that. All I know is that my yard doesn't look like a disaster area any more, and that's probably a good thing... even though I won't be having guests to appreciate them any time soon...
The irises on the side of my home are in peak bloomage, which is to say that they're all falling over because the flowers are too heavy for the stalks holding them up. I propped them up where I could and took photos so they can at least be appreciated before they all start dying...
I think I mentioned that I'm in the process of backing up all my DVDs before they rot to unplayability. But I'm also looking into the best way of backing up my 8mm cassette tapes. For quite a long time all my shows were recorded on 8mm because the quality was better than VHS and they were much smaller and easier to store. Over the years as the shows have become available to purchase digitally, I've been tossing the tapes out... but there's still quite a few shows which I can't purchase and will have to digitize. Including two of my favorite shows of all time... Cupid (1998, starring Jeremy Piven) and Oh Grow Up! (1999, starring the late Stephen Dunham). I cannot for the life of me understand why television studios don't just release their entire catalogs to scrape up some cash, as there are many shows I'd gladly buy if only I could.
Including some shows I never even knew existed.
Yesterday I became aware of a 2016 show from the UK called Hooten and the Lady when a friend let me stream it from his Sling DVR. Apparently The CW acquired the USA rights and broadcast it in 2017. He thought I might like it... and I absolutely do...
I liked the first three episodes so much that I went to buy it so I could see the five remaining episodes. Alas I can't buy them. It isn't available here in the USA in the iTunes Store, nor can I purchase it on DVD or Blu-Ray because it's region-encoded and won't play on my machine. Which is a pity, because it's really, really good. Kinda Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone. Or something like that. It's got action and has some funny moments to it. Guess I'll have to see when my friend will let me schedule some time with his Sling Box again so I can finish it up. Alas it never got a second season, which is inconceivable to me. It's such a great show.
Except it actually is totally conceivable to me because all the good shows seem to get premature deaths.
Posted on Sunday, May 31st, 2020
I don't even know what to say... but here's a new Bullet Sunday anyway...
• BLM! Despite being so crestfallen about the state of politics in this country that I'm trying not to blog my rage on a daily basis... something needs to be said. I fully believe that an unarmed citizen should not be dragged from their car by the police and get choked out on the street... all while crying out because they can't breathe as other citizens are telling the officers they they're killing somebody. For nine minutes. That's not law enforcement, it's murder. And when the murder disproportionately targets Black Americans? Well, that's why people are protesting. And I support the protesters 1000%, because this shit has got to stop. And, quite honestly, I don't understand why everybody can't support the protesters. I mean, my God, Black Americans have been trying to get attention to their plight via peaceful protest forever now. And no matter how they try to protest and bring awareness, they get criticized for it. Can't kneel at a football game (even though a veteran advised you it was a respectful way to protest) because people don't like it. Can't try to mention what's happening in an award speech because people don't like it. Can't have a sit-in. Can't have a march. Can't hold a rally. Can't carry a sign. Can't write an article. Can't make a movie. Can't do anything without pissing people off who don't want to be reminded of the horrific systemic racism which plagues us (and from which they likely benefit). Well, too fucking bad. Your "inconvenience" is what's going to lead to change. That's how shit gets done in this country. Just ask those who took part in the Boston Tea Party.
And, lastly, for the love of everything holy, STOP EQUATING PEACEFUL PROTEST TO LOOTING! The vast, vast number of people protesting are not looting a damn thing. As more and more information comes to light, the looting and violence are being started not by protesters, but by others for their own ends. Which include Far Left Anarchists, Far Right White Supremacists, and The President of the United States of America. They want to watch the world burn so they can start something new. Black Americans just want to be able to walk down the street and not get shot by the people sworn to protect them. Don't get me wrong... I support the idea of a police force. And I believe that officers on the front lines should have the tools they need to do their job and stay safe. But the grotesque militarization of our police has only served to escalate violence, and the lack of training for de-escalating situations before they turn violent is woefully inadequate. Instead we've got rogue police officers acting like judge, jury, and executioner. That's heinous. That's wrong. That needs to stop. Today. And a lot of police officers agree, which is why they are joining up with the protesters. It's their community too, and any officer true to their mission should be supporting peaceful protest of law enforcement abuses.
And now I'm going to go scream for a half-hour.
• Predictable! And meanwhile, this is happening...
I’ve been called a lot of names & accused of a lot of things by ER patients but it’s surreal to have a patient accuse me of falsifying their COVID result - bc they don’t believe the virus is real - as I’m actively trying to keep them from dying from multi organ failure from COVID pic.twitter.com/gyv9HQfL0F— Ryan Marino (@RyanMarino) May 20, 2020
• Misbehavin'! One of my favorite TV shows from 2019 took me completely by surprise... it was The Righteous Gemstones starring John Goodman as a mega-church televangelist pastor. And one of the best bits to come out of that show was the performance of a song called Misbehavin' by the wife of John Goodman's character and her scheming brother...
I've watched that video at least a dozen times. And if your curious about how the song came about, here's an article for you.
• From My Ranch To Your Kitchen! I've not been cooking much lately because I just haven't felt up to it. But yesterday I decided that I really need to start using the ingredients I've purchased while they're still good, so I started looking for ideas. Then somebody on Facebook reminded me of one of my favorite cooking channels on YouTube... De mi Rancho a Tu Cocina. Sure, she cooks most everything with meat, but it's fascinating. And, thanks to Google's auto-translation subtitles, you can actually follow along fairly well when you turn them on (CC button) and select "auto-translate" in the settings (gear button)...
Great stuff. Love her. It was this channel that convinced me to give a recipe with tomatillos a try with my Martha Stewart recipe box subscription.
• Armchair Traveler! So many museums and cool places are putting up virtual tours and I'm absolutely loving it. But the best one I've seen so far is the Statue of Liberty, which is sensational. You can go around and inside of it and look around 360°. Here's just a sampling of what I saw when I virtually-visited...
In the day time. But there's also night views from the exterior...
Having been up the Statue of Liberty a couple times, I fully admit that the dizzying heights and cramped quarters aren't something you can reproduce virtually, but at least you can get a taste of it. This is a view inside the crown...
The photos I just posted (courtesy of the National Parks Service) really don't do the experience justice. Head over to their site to see for yourself.
• Dates! One of my favorite vloggers, Johnny Harris, has yet another cool video up. This time he's exploring the International Date Line and why it's the way it is...
This wouldn't be the first time Google Maps has screwed up. A decade ago there was an error which caused Nicaragua to invade Costa Rica. So even though Google Maps is often viewed as a definitive source of information because it's so heavily used, it really shouldn't be. Always check your sources. And if you can't get enough Johnny Harris, check out this fascinating video about Swiss neutrality.
Stay safe, everybody.
Posted on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
I've been dealing with the stress of day-to-day life by putting down the computer and blowing through a couple Minecraft Dungeons levels every night. It tends to take my mind off things better than passively watching television. Especially as I up the difficulty, which is a lot of fun. Being able to get through a level that's rated for a higher power-level than you've got is pretty rewarding.
But I am still totally watching a lot of television while I work.
Mostly old television shows that I am enjoying all over again. I just bought a bunch of Monk episodes, and am surprised at how truly great the earlier shows were. I also bought a DVD set for My Boys, which I can't find digitally at all. Such a great show. And then there's L.A. to Vegas, which is so funny. I cannot fathom how it didn't get a second season. I can't imagine anybody not getting a laugh out of it. And having Dermot Mulroney making guest-appearances on the show (which stars Dylan McDermott), remains some of the best guest-casting I've seen. Totally playing on how much confusion there's been between the two over the years...
Saturday Night Live even did a sketch on it once...
L.A. to Vegas: Yet another show, cut down before it got a chance to find an audience.
Oh well. I can watch the one-and-only season every year to enjoy it all over again, so there's that.
Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2020
As I mentioned a while back, I had a DVD stop working and decided to backup my massive CD/DVD/Blu-Ray collection to computer files that I can import into my Plex Media Server. It's been going great so far, and I've been ripping through everything as fast as I can. Then I'm boxing all the physical media up and storing it in my garage. That way I have proof that I bought it in case anybody wants to accuse me of piracy. I don't steal content. On the contrary, I'm proud to support the artists who make the media I enjoy.
But CDs and DVDs aren't the only thing I'm attempting to back up.
For those TV shows I have recorded on VHS and 8mm tape which are not available to purchase, I'm converting them as well.
One of the shows I was going to convert from 8mm tape was My Boys because iTunes didn't have it for sale. But then I thought to check Amazon and managed to get DVDs of seasons 1-3 for just $17! How sweet is that?
Such a great show. Alas, the final 9 episodes of the series that made up Season 4 can't be found anywhere. Everyplace I've found which has DVDs for sale end up being bootlegs. And since I don't steal content, I certainly don't support people stealing content.
I've still got many, many shows to convert over but, as of today, all my music has been ripped or re-purchased digitally. Re-purchasing is easiest, but so many things I only have on mix-tapes or cassette singles or LP singles just aren't available. I keep checking through.
The only thing I cannot figure out how to purchase is some of the short films I've saved over the years. Some of them I've actually found on iTunes to buy. But others? No clue.
Plex got confused between two of these short movies I love... Sign and Signs. After separating them and telling Plex that they are not the M. Night. Shyamalan movie Signs, I had to watch them again, of course. This first one is entirely too sweet. I've seen it a dozen times and love it more with each viewing ❤️...
Here's the other short film that Plex got confused on. It's absolutely wonderful. More happens here in 12 minutes than you'd find in most movies that are 2 hours long ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜...
I sure do wish I could support these filmmakers and actors by buying these films on iTunes... or anywhere, really, so if anybody knows where they're for sale, I'd appreciate a heads-up.
Posted on Sunday, June 14th, 2020
If I were a religiously superstitious man, I'd say that a Bullet Sunday associated with The Mark of the Beast is strangely apt given the times we live, and yet there's no need to go fearing the apocalypse just yet... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia! There are some people in the world who would have skipped right over a blog post numbered "666" out of fear that this number invokes the devil. This fear is known as "hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia." Quite a mouthful. My fear of satan has long since disappated because we've got hell on earth happening all around us. From Impeached President Trump scheduling a rally at the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre on Juneteenth (then rescheduling, but no worries... we know what you meant)... to Impeached President Trump erasing transgender American health protections during Pride... to Impeached President Trump easing restrictions on killing bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens so Donald Trump Jr. can spend tens of thousands more tax dollars on hunting trips... evil is being unleashed from the very top of our government every fucking day. Who needs the devil?
• IMDB That Shit! How my mind works... "What was that series I wanted to watch that has General Hux from Star Wars and Zoey from Nurse Jackie? Was it called "Escape?" And it was on Netflix, wasn't it? No... I saw it advertised before Last Week Tonight a few weeks ago so it must have been HBO? Or was it before Upload on Amazon Prime? Surely it's not one of those Apple TV+ shows is it? No, pretty sure it was HBO. Ugh... so many shows... what was the name... what was the name... what was the name... dang. Guess I'm going to IMDB. The guy was definitely in that amazing time travel movie with Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams that Richard Curtis made... what was it? Oh yeah! It was About Time! Man I loved that movie. I should remember to watch that again. Hmmm... guess I'll look up About Time on IMDB and... WAIT! I remember, it's DOMHNALL GLEASON! Hard to forget an Irish name like that after he discussed how the M and the H are just there to confuse Americans! Domhnall Gleason. Boy, he's an amazing actor, isn't he? That's why I have to watch this new series. But it's not "Escape." Oh wait... it's Run! The name of the show I want is Run! Sweet! I didn't need IMDB after all because I'm just that smart! SUCK IT IMDB! Huh... wasn't the woman who played Zoey in Nurse Jackie also in The Walking Dead? =sigh= I guess I need to IMDB that shit.
• Whoa! I totally missed this. Or forgot I saw it. Or something. This is a "faithful, word-for-word recreation of one colorful day in the American court system" as recreated by Rick and Morty...
Because American justice sometimes perfectly resembles a cartoon. And Rick and Morty is the perfect cartoon to do it. Insanity.
• Damn, Daniel! This is faked, of course, but still hilarious...
I ended up watching this video five times in a row so I could look at everybody's reactions. Thank heavens all my Zooms are on my iPad and I physically close it when I leave the call (which disconnects everything).
• Alexaaaaaa! A slice of life in 2020...
ALEXA: "From Amazon Product Ratings: Three months ago, you purchased 9 Inch Bread Banneton Proofing Basket. How would you rate this product from one to five stars?"
ME: "What the fuck? Alexa, stop bothering me with this shit!"
ALEXA: "Okay. I'll stop asking you for product reviews for a while."
ME: "A WHILE?!? WHY NOT PERMANENTLY?!?"
This is how it starts, doesn't it? Technology slowly creeps into your life and eventually just takes over. It's not like The Terminator didn't warn us this would happen.
• Not-So-Foxy! Lately FOX "News" has been caught Photoshopping images to support their idiotic narrative as to what's happening in Seattle... to being so desperate for news on what's actually happening in Seattle that they fall for absurd Monty Python parody posts. I guess the truth about what's really happening in the tiny little 6-block section of Seattle which has sectioned itself off as an autonomous zone is just too boring? Better lie and bias it up then. Seems to make no difference to their viewers. Maybe when Impeached President Cadet Bone Spurs invades Seattle personally, as he's threatened to do, they'll have the story they're really looking for.
• Party! It's gotten impossible for me to support any facet of the Republican Party. Where I live, I generally voted Republican on State issues because the Democrats which dominate Western Washington don't give two fucks about what happens East of the Cascades... there's no votes for them here, so we get ignored. No, I don't support a lot of what Republicans represent, but there's really no choice if the region where I live wants a fair share of the pie.
All that stopped after Cadet Bone Spurs Trump was elected. Any party which enables... and continues to support... this monster has completely lost me. There is no reality where I would ever vote Republican now. Instead I do what I swore I would never do... check every fucking Democrat on the ballot. Because even if a Republican publicly condemns the president, there are still too many other horrific people and issues that never get condemned. And ANY Republican who even attempts to be a human being by representing ALL of their constituency is quickly targeted and devoured by the Republican Party. Perform a same-sex wedding to offer support for a segment of your community. Get fucked. It's just the way they operate now. The Republican Party has no future unless they can gerrymander it.
And now back to our regularly-scheduled hell on earth.
Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2020
When it comes to monumental events in United States of America history, the abolition of slavery ranks right up there with Independence Day. This is not up for debate. When America won its independence, not everybody was free. That came some 85 years later. But not really. The Emancipation Proclamation was proclaimed on September 22, 1862... but news apparently traveled slowly, so Texas didn't get the message until two-and-a-half years later. Texas didn't issue their proclamation until June 19, 1865... AKA Juneteenth. And that was the end of slavery, right? Not really. Delaware and Kentucky didn't get onboard until that December. So that's the end then? Not really. Penal slave labor still exists... but that's another discussion.
Juneteenth became a massive celebration in Texas. So massive that it spread throughout the South... and eventually throughout the country. Most states officially acknowledge Juneteenth in some way (I think the Dakotas and Hawaii are the holdouts). Some states, including Texas, have made it an official State paid holiday (and I think Washington will eventually get there).
There's a push to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, something I fully support. Because if there's an event which deserves national recognition, celebration, and an official holiday in a country which prides itself on freedom, it's the end of slavery. How anybody can debate that is beyond me. And yet... all it takes is browsing through Facebook comments and you'll find all kinds of people freaking out over the idea. I can't even pretend to be shocked... hell, Juneteenth was never explained in my school. Do you know the first time I ever heard of it? When I was in GERMANY in the mid-90's! Yes. GERMANY. There was an article in a train magazine that I couldn't read, but I wrote down "Juneteenth" to look up when I got home because the photos made it clear that it's an American celebration.
Another thing that was never mentioned when I was in school? The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.
Do you want to know when I learned about that? When I actually visited Tulsa and went to the Tulsa Historical Museum... in 2010! TWO-THOUSAND-TEN! One of the most horrific events in American history, and I never heard about it until ten years ago.
That is all kinds of fucked up.
Since the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 is a catalyst for my favorite television show of 2019 (and one of the best series I've seen ever), Watchmen, HBO is running it for free all weekend. I decided to binge-watch it for the fourth time even though HBO comes with my AT&T mobile contract for free...
This show just gets better and better with each viewing. I was such a hugely massive fan of the original graphic novel, and the HBO "not-a-sequel-sequel" so beautifully fits into that world. Flawless television. I have no idea how accessible it is to people who haven't read the comic book... but I think it's perfectly understandable (even if you miss some of the references), so you should definitely check it out.
And happy Juneteenth, everybody!
Posted on Sunday, June 21st, 2020
Summer is here and the heat is on, but you'll have no trouble staying cool... because despite being sick sick sick, an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Dads! Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there... no matter what your family looks like. I think this photo is my favorite I've seen today...
The baby girl's T-shirt is the best! Since that photo was taken, James and Charlie welcomed another baby...
You can follow this awesome family on their Instagram right here.
• Victor! And speaking of awesome families... I managed to keep down water and dry toast while binge-watching Love, Victor last night. As somebody who loved the movie Love, Simon, I honestly had low expectations for the 10-episode spin-off series. I was certain it was just going to tell the exact same story we already knew. — Couldn't have been happier to have been wrong. Love, Victor is pretty great. They didn't just retread the movie, instead they expanded upon it. In the movie, secondary friend characters and Simon's parents were merely one-dimensional backdrops. In the series they had time to give them all their own lives with their own issues to work through. There are certainly problems... they fell into some trope traps and reused elements that should have been rethought, but it was still entertaining. I like that they made it feel like an extension of the movie by having a similar soundtrack and making sure the "voice" of the series was intimate and familiar. Plus we get to find out what happened to Simon and Bram a little bit!
Still kinda disgusted that Disney yanked it from Disney+ and put it on Hulu because it was deemed "not family-friendly," or whatever, but at least it aired. I really hope we get a second season.
• Boys! I recently purchased the My Boys DVD set so I could back-up the episodes to my Plex server. After having mentioned it, somebody sent me a link to this...
There are many, many shows I'd like to see revived... Veronica Mars and Will & Grace was just the beginning. Pretty sure that My Boys would be on that list as well. The characters were just so good.
• NEWS FLASH! Fox News Argues Viewers Don't Assume Tucker Carlson Reports Facts. I know I sure as fuck don't expect to get any actual facts from Cucker Tarlson. The dumbass piece of crap has no choice but to lie and falsify "alternative facts" to support his bigoted bullshit narrative. And FOX "News" was forced to admit it because they're in the middle of a lawsuit over it. This means nothing to the morons who think that Cucker is actual news, but it's a start. They should seriously just adopt "We Don't Report Facts" as the motto for the entire network. That much is mostly true.
• NEWS FLASH! Austria Has 90% Drop in Coronavirus Cases After Requiring People to Wear Face Masks. If we tried that here? People would be all "BUT MY FREEDOM!!! Your right to not die from a highly contagious virus does not trump my right to infect you with it because masks are uncomfortable!" — In related news, US FDA pulls its emergency approval of chloroquine use for COVID-19. But drinking bleach and shoving a UV light up your ass is still an acceptable way to prevent COVID-19, right? I mean, which presidential doctor advice am I supposed to listen to? WHAT? NONE of it? Because he's not a doctor? Oh. Wait... why was he offering medical advice then? There is no aspect of our pandemic response that this stupid fucking administration hasn't managed to fuck up completely.
• Solstice! Since travel is still severely limited, English Heritage Site decided to livestream sunset and sunrise at Stonehenge...
It was far less exciting than I was expecting. Perhaps my having experienced Stonehenge in person at sunrise killed the experience for me? Being there is always better than a webcam, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have gotten to experience it...
Happy Solstice, everybody.
• Pooch in Boots! When I was picking up kitty litter at Petco, I walked by these...
I was fascinated at the idea of having a pet which would stand still long enough to put these on their paws. My cats would have less than none of this... cute as they may be.
And that's it for Father's Day bullets.
Posted on Sunday, July 5th, 2020
Life can be so cruel, but there's more to existence than misery... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Cuong Nguyen creates utterly amazing works of art in various mediums...
The guy's entire YouTube Channel is remarkable.
• Areala! Netflix finally dropped their adaptation series of Warrior Nun Areala and it's pretty good...
If there's a fault with the series, it's that they dragged it out too long. There's painfully dull stretches where the nuns aren't kicking ass that should have been seriously cut down. I admit that there were times I just fast-forwarded through it because I just could not bring myself to care. They could have easily dropped this down to six episodes and been far better for it. When it comes to faithfulness to the comic book, it's a mixed bag. Sister Shannon (who headed the comic) is gone, and a formerly quadrapalegic, formerly dead young woman inherits her mantle. Alas, she's new and inexperienced, so that's automatically adding dead weight to the story, but Shotgun Mary and Mother Superion are there... as are other warrior nuns... so I think it tries to keep true to the spirit of the source material, and that's something. Hopefully if it gets renewed they'll focus more on action than they did the first time around. And if it doesn't get renewed? That's one shitty fucking cliffhanger to go out on.
• Being With Her! One of my favorite TV shows was I'm With Her... a rom-com where a school teacher starts dating the most famous movie star in the world. It's a fairly obvious take-off of the Julia Roberts movie Notting Hill. The series was fun and clever and featured hilarious guest-appearances by Peter Dinklage. The idea was retread again in the show Beauty and the Baker this year. It was good but nothing special. Today I found out that this show is based on an Israeli show called Lehiyot Ita... which, coincidentally enough, translates to Being With Her. So we've come full circle...
But here's the thing... the Israeli original series is really pretty good. Clever, smart, funny, and the casting is fantastic. If you have Amazon Prime streaming, I highly recommend giving it a shot! It's in Hebrew, so you'll need to turn on the subtitles, but it's worth it.
• Hamilton! I had the opportunity to see the Broadway play Hamilton very early on. I knew it was getting raves and had huge buzz, but it hadn't entered national consciousness yet. I don't care for Broadway shows at all, so I took a pass. I'd have to burn money on a flight and hotel that I'd rather spend on something else. Better the ticket go to somebody who would enjoy it. Then as Hamiltonmania exploded across the country, I always wondered if I made a mistake. Maybe I should have saw it just so I could say I saw it?
I finally saw the filmed performance on Disney+ and now I know I was right to skip it. Don't get me wrong... Lin Manuel Miranda is genius (I loved his work on Moana) and the cast seems talented... but good Lord is this not for me. AND IT LASTS THREE HOURS?!? I would have been praying for death after 30 minutes. I'm happy that people can enjoy watching actors running around in circles screaming/singing dialogue like this, but I just don't get it.
• Oopsies! And this... is 2020...
And we're only half-way through.
• And Lastly! You're welcome...
Just try getting that out of your head.
And that's enough joy, I suppose. See You Next Sunday.
Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
This was starting out to be yet another killer day at work so I decided to get up early. This way I had a minute for breakfast, which allows me to work on perfecting the perfect egg and cheese biscuit sandwich.
So I got up... I fed the cats... then I went to grab a pan to fry up some eggs... and... whoops. All my pots and pans were dirty. And I just didn't feel like washing them by hand, which you have to do because they don't recommend the dishwasher since it ruins the coating. It's not even like it's that hard. My pots and pans are totally easy to clean because nothing sticks... it's just having to stand at the sink and turn on water and squirt the soap and scrub with a brush and dry them off and put them away... no individual task is tough or takes long, but when taken all together it seems like a lot in the morning when I'm trying to get out of the house.
So instead I went out back to take a look at my hydrangeas.
These things are amazing because after having been chopped to the ground in the Fall, they don't seem to do anything when all my other flowers are starting to sprout in the Spring. Then... in what seems like a few days... they explode with growth. Seriously, it's several inches a day, and then the flowers magically appear out of nowhere. Last night I noted that they were all in full bloom...
Madonna famously loathes hydrangeas, but I think they're pretty. They certainly take up a lot of space... and they don't stink, which is nice. I'm happy to just let them keep growing year after year since it doesn't require any effort by me (except to chop them down again in October).
When I got home I really wanted some creamy walnut sauce on pasta.
But I was so tired after 12 hours working that, once again, I had very little motivation to scrub my pots and pans. And since every last one of them was dirty, I figured I'd just take a pass.
But then I couldn't bring myself to eat another peanut butter sandwich like I did last night, so I spent the 15 minutes it took to clear my sink and start cooking for 25 minutes.
Totally worth it...
Delicious to the last bite. Except now I've got a sink full of pots and pans again.
Then it was time to ignore the dirty dishes and hunker down with Jake and watch television, which was pretty much all I had the energy for...
Except for a bowl of chocolate ice cream with walnuts and whipped cream, of course.
Posted on Sunday, July 26th, 2020
Comic-Con San Diego may have been canceled this year, but you can't cancel Bullet Sunday, which starts... now...
• EXCELLENT!! Not only did we get a brand-new trailer for the upcoming Bill & Ted movie at Comic-Con at Home, we also got a release date of September 1st. But the best news? It's going to be released for streaming rental day-and-date with the theatrical release!
Sure it will probably cost $20 to rent early, but I would pay it in a heartbeat to avoid having to go to a bogus COVID-19-infested theater!
• NANDOR! I watched a few virtual panels and, by a wide margin, my favorite of the bunch featured the cast of What We Do In The Shadows. If you're a fan of the show, there's no need to tell you what to do...
I know the second season just ended, but I want a third season right now.
• SEEKERS! What I want more than anything else from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright is a sequel to their incredible movie, Paul. But outside of that, I'll take whatever I can get. Including their new paranormal hunter show... Truth Seekers...
Alas, no date is given as to when the show debuts on Amazon Prime, but here's hoping it's soon-soon rather than later-soon.
• DECKS! I have no problem with an animated Star Trek. The original animated Star Trek series was pretty darn great. But a comedy? I don't know that I get why that has to go under the umbrella. It seems an odd fit...
Guess I'll see how I feel once I've seen an episode or two. Lower Decks drops on CBS All Access on August 6th.
• Jack! Not exactly Comic-Con-related, but Jack Whitehall has a new Netflix special out. If you like Jack, it's a great waste of time...
I sure am sad that we likely won't see any more episodes of Travels with My Father, but watching this special makes me want to watch all the episodes we got all over again.
• Cutesplosion! And lastly, I leave you with this...
And that's a wrap, True Believer.
Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
I've been consumed with work for weeks and it hasn't done anything good for my housekeeping. My home is a complete pit of despair right now, and it's going to get worse before things get better because I'm starting my kitchen remodel this weekend. Originally it was to start at the beginning of the month but that had to be delayed when I realized I needed another month's worth of savings to make it happen. Usually I would never be able to remodel this late in the summer when I have lots of visitors staying over, but... pandemic and all that.... so here we are.
Like everybody else, I'd imagine, I've been watching an absurd amount of television lately. But since so much of the new stuff that's on doesn't really interest me, I've been re-watching older shows that I like. Tonight I started watching No Tomorrow, a show I haven't watched since it was released in the 2016/2017 television season...
It's a romantic comedy about a guy who stumbles upon an asteroid which will hit the earth in 8 months and end all life on the planet. Ever since, he's been living his life like there's no tomorrow, doing all the things he's always wanted to do. Along the way he meets a woman that he immediately falls in like with, and kinda-sorta convinces her to buy into his end-of-the-world theory. Together they start checking items off their "Apocalists" and it's a charming, sweet, funny, lovely little show and a fun ride.
At least it was until The CW canceled it.
The cast is really great, so I was curious to know what they had all been up to. Everybody had moved on to a bunch of other projects... except the star of No Tomorrow, Joshua Sasse.
He hasn't appeared in any TV shows or movies since.
BEFORE he was in No Tomorrow he was in Galavant, a show I caught a few times, but none of his other shows rang a bell. Even so, it's kind of depressing that he's not doing something new since he seems like such a talented actor. Maybe he can afford to be picky and is just waiting for a project he likes? I sure hope so.
As I've been watching the episodes, I've been thinking an awful lot about how I would be living my life if I knew it was all going to end in eight months. I'd like to think that I'd be spending my time doing things that are a lot more interesting than what I'm doing. Like finally getting my ass to India... pandemic be damned. Not that I could actually go, of course. The entire world has banned USA citizens from entering thanks to our heinously shitty response to COVID-19. We're a bunch of selfish fucking idiots who can't be bothered to wear a mask or look out for other people.
I suppose I should probably start cleaning my house now, but... pandemic and all that... so here we are.
Posted on Sunday, August 2nd, 2020
2020 never seems to end, but neither does the bullets... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Umbrella 2! I liked the first season of The Umbrella Academy despite the fast that it took some serious liberties with the comic book source. The second season just dropped and I binged it all in a day...
Even better than the first season! Number 5 must be one of the best comic book characters ever brought to life on the small screen. If I have a small bit of criticism, it would be that the series got a bit mired in personal drama that was boring and not terribly important towards moving the story forward. Particularly Vanya's time on a farm(?)... a diversion that could have been adequately addressed in 1/3 the screen time. Otherwise? genius.
• Just Do It! There is some serious image re-mapping and aligning going on here and it's incredibly well done. This is beautiful to behold...
Bravo to the art director and their team for how this came together.
• Cheapness! A couple people asked me about the "cheap movies" I bought and where I bought them. I monitor a site called Cheap Charts then, when I find the cheapest price on a sale movie I want, I go ahead and buy it if it's from iTunes (because that's where all my movies are). If it's not on iTunes, I check MoviesAnywhere to see if the movie can be bought at a member site, which means iTunes will import it automatically. Usually iTunes is the most expensive place, with Amazon Digital and Microsoft Digital being the cheapest. If the movie is not a part of MoviesAnywhere, then I usually don't buy it... unless it's super-cheap, then I just suffer through having to use Amazon or Microsoft's player to watch it. And now you know.
• How to Mask! Sarah Cooper has been on fire with her last several videos, but this one is just beyond...
Nice to know at least one thing to laugh about when it comes to the horror show we're currently trapped in.
• Biscuits! Thanks to friends on Facebook, I've finally cracked the puzzle of making the perfect Egg & Cheese McBiscuit! I start with FROZEN Pillsbury Grands and smear the tops and bottoms with butter. Cook pushed together as directed. THEN I smear the tops with butter AGAIN... separate the biscuits AND FLIP THEM OVER. Increase the heat to 400º and cook for four minutes longer so the tops get fried on the hot cookie sheet. VOILA! Perfectly crispy biscuits with fluffy insides that taste every bit as good at McDonalds!
Now I no longer have to pay ridiculous prices (THREE DOLLARS AND FORTY-NINE CENTS EACH?!??) to get one of my favorite treats! Hooray!
• US History! It's easy to see how the reason so many people are so ignorant about how things actually are in this country is that they don't have an accurate picture of how we got here. The mind boggles...
Smartly done. But the people most needing to see this and understand this are exactly the people who will never watch it.
• Memory! Face, Velvet, Church, Daisy, Red. Yep, still got it a week later.
I guess that's all I got for this week. See you next Sunday.
Posted on Thursday, August 6th, 2020
It's been just over a year since I canceled DirecTV and switched to streaming services for my television entertainment. First I went with Sling, but I wanted the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.) so I landed on FuboTV. They're sports-focused, but the package they offer was closer to what I like to watch, so I was happy with their service.
At least I was happy until they raised their prices... apparently to add more sports programs I won't watch. I am now paying $60 a month for FuboTV on top of the $14 I pay for Netflix. So... $74 a month. For television.
Since FuboTV doesn't offer a package without the sports for less money, I started investigating alternatives. I had signed up for FuboTV because they had the major networks, but as I started looking around I came to realize that I rarely watch them any more. What network shows I do watch are (coincidentally) almost exclusively on CBS. And, lucky me, CBS streams all their current programming via their CBS All-Access service. Another lucky break? Almost all minor networks I watch are completely covered by a service called Philo, which is just $20 a month. They don't have Cartoon Network (gotta have my Rick and Morty!), but I can just purchase the show directly from iTunes and still come out way ahead.
So now I can switch to Philo at 1/3 the cost of FuboTV, keep Netflix, and then cycle through all the other services... Hulu one month, CBS All-Access the next month, and Peacock the next month. That will end up saving me nearly $500 a year. And could save even more if I work Netflix into the rotation of services I switch through (something that could come in handy if I'm strapped for cash).
Now that it's all coming together, I made a list of all the shows I like so I know which services I need to work with to get them...
Barnwood Builders (DIY)
Beach Hunters (HGTV)
Beachfront Bargain Hunt (HGTV)
Big Beach Builds (DIY)
Build Me Up (HGTV)
Building Off the Grid (HGTV)
Drag Race (VH1)
Drag Race All Stars (VH1)
Good Bones (HGTV)
Hallmark Movies (HALLMARK)
Hawaii Life (HGTV)
Home Town (HGTV)
House Hunters (HGTV)
Island Hunters (HGTV)
Lakefront Bargain Hunt (HGTV)
Love It or List It (HGTV)
Martha Knows Best (HGTV)
Pool Kings (HGTV)
Restored by the Fords (HGTV)
Vacation House Rules (HGTV)
In the Dark
Living with Yourself
CBS ALL-ACCESS ($6/mo.)
Bob (hearts) Abishola
Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek: Lower Decks
Star Trek: Picard
Untitled Star Trek Section 31 Series
The Conners (ABC)
Love, Victor (HULU)
The Orville (HULU)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)
Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)
New Amsterdam (NBC)
Backyard Envy (BRAVO)
Below Deck (BRAVO)
Below Deck Med (BRAVO)
Vanderpump Rules (BRAVO)
Rick & Morty (Cartoon Network)
Apple TV+ (Free Year, Will Not Renew)
PRIME VIDEO (Included with Amazon Prime)
DISNEY+ (Prepaid 3 Years)
The Falcon & Winter Soldier
Untitled Cassian Andor Series
Untitled Obi-Wan Series
HBO (Included with AT&T Mobile)
Last Week Tonight
That's a lot of television. But given we may be quarantined for the rest of our lives because people won't do jack-shit to slow the pandemic, at least it's something to do.
Posted on Sunday, August 16th, 2020
Six months in quarantine and dumbass idiots just keep our pandemic going strong, but at least there's something to read... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• So Very COVID! U.S. Coronavirus Outbreaks Are Increasingly Tied to Small Family Gatherings, according to this Vice article: If You Love Your Family, Stay the Hell Away From Them. This pandemic is never going to end. This is why.
• WOMAN, CAMERA, TV! Sarah Cooper has just been given a comedy special deal by Netflix. After her many hilarious videos and this monologue for Kimmel, it's easy to see why...
Good on you, Miss Cooper.
• JAJA DING DONG! If you saw the Will Ferrell Netflix movie, Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga, you know that he plays an Icelandic singer who dreams of competing in the Eurovision song competition. A joke in the movie is when he sings a song called Jaja Ding Dong, which is about exactly what you'd think it would be about. Well, the real-life Iceland Eurovision contestant, Daði Freyr, is constantly being asked to cover the song, and he finally relented...
• Puppies! When I was in Zimbabwe, I was very, VERY lucky to see wild dogs. They are rare to spot, and there was a group of people that flew in a couple weeks prior to my visit who came specifically to photograph them... but never saw a single pup after a week of searching. They are really remarkable creatures, and it's cool that they have found ways to help restore the wild dog populations of Africa...
They're beautiful creatures, to be sure.
• Cats! Tell me that you don't think of Jake and his beloved toy Mufasa when you see this...
Cats are the most incredible creatures.
• Cohen! Michael Cohen's new book is coming, and it promises to be a doozy. I won't give the piece of shit a single cent of my money no matter how much dirt he's dishing... and there's really no reason to. I'm sure all the tea will be spread far and wide without me having to buy a thing. If nothing else we'll finally get confirmation that the pee pee tape exists...
I believed it all along.
And that's they way it goes. Enjoy your pandemic.
Posted on Sunday, August 30th, 2020
Summer may be coming to a close, but the bullets are just beginning... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Forever! This weekend I held a Chadwick Boseman memoral marathon... starting with 42, Gods of Egypt, and Marshall yesterday... then blowing through all his Marvel movies, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet, and Avengers: Endgame today. Mr. Boseman was diagnosed with third stage colon cancer in 2016. Which means he had to be feeling effects while filming Civil War and Marshall... and was battling it in force while filming Black Panther and the Avengers movies. His amazing acting talent is on screen for all to see. But the strength it took to be filming while undergoing treatment for cancer? You never saw that...
It's been weighing on me all day. I've read that he said that he prayed that he would get the role of Black Panther before he was cast. I can only imagine that playing the character kept him going. I don't know. What I do know is that I sure would have loved to have seen more movies from him. But, man, what we got was sure amazing wasn't it?
• Jeopardy! Seems an apt time to remember when Chadwick Boseman was responsible for one of the funniest sketches to ever air on Saturday Night Live...
And now I want potato salad.
• EXCELLENT! One of my favorite movies of all time is Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Far from being a high school stoner comedy (albeit without the drugs), it was actually an incredibly smart film. Time travel was handled exceedinly well, the soundtrack was fantastic, and the casting was genius. George Carlin was an inspired choice as Rufus... and of course Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter were genre-defining in the title roles. The sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey fell short, but was still a fun ride. And now, 30 years after the original debuted, Bill & Ted are back...
While it's not in the same league as the original... and how could it be when George Carlin is gone?... it was still pretty darn entertaining. I am not going to say a word about the movie because you really need to see for yourself. And you can do that with a $20 rental or $25 purchase price through iTunes and other streaming services. I don't know if it's worth the first-run cost, but it's not like you can run out and see it in theaters.
• #GiantMeteor2020! Well, dang.
• Bird Shit! Johnny Harris does it again... this time with a fascinating video on why the US has all these islands scattered around the Pacific...
Truth is so often stranger than fiction.
• HAN SHOT FIRST! Restoring old films so they will appeal to modern audiences is nothing new. Cleaning up the dust and scratches. Minimizing grain. Sharpening the picture. It's pretty cool what technology can do to help make old films look new. But there is such a thing as going too far. I first remember this kind of controversy when Turner Network Television "colorized" old black-and-white movies. I never thought this was so terrible, but a lot of people did. What I do think is terrible is when classic films are altered so that the story changes. Guns becoming walkie-talkies in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial... and, of course, Greedo shooting first in Star Wars.
There was a lot of outcry over Star Wars... so much so that when they released the modified "Special Edition" on DVD they included a "Bonus Disc" which had a cleaned up version of the original film. I was happy to have it, because the only way I could watch the original was on my LaserDisc copy, which was a very nice picture for 1982, but disappointing for 1997. I didn't mind so much that they replaced the special effects shots with new CGI versions... but the other changes (like Han not shooting first) were pretty crappy.
Now there's a new technique for "stacking" multiple sources of the film so that you can build a more detailed picture...
Here's a still from the original film off LaserDisc...
Here's the same still from the DVD Special Edition Bonus Disc of the original film...
And here's the restoration version which uses details from multiple sources to create a far sharper version...
Pretty amazing. Here's an explanation video. Fast forward to 40 minutes if you just want to see what's happening...
Technology so nifty, eh? THIS is a kind of restoration that does more good than harm.
And that's a wrap on my Sunday.
Posted on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020
Two months ago? Three months ago? Some time ago a friend in Canada sent me recordings of a television show called Transplant. It was a medical drama that I wanted to ignore because I was tired of medical dramas, but felt obligated to take a look at because my friend had taken the time to send it to me.
I watched the first episode on a Saturday morning while I waited for my cats to finish breakfast. I wanted to add their dishes to the dishwasher before I ran it. I knew I had some time because Jenny is famous for eating a bit, walking away, coming back and eating a bit more, then walking away, then coming back... it can take her 20 minutes to finish a meal.
I was riveted to the screen for the entire first episode. After running the dishwasher I sat back down and watched the remaining 12 episodes back-to-back. My day was gone but I really didn't have a choice. It's that good.
Transplant is about a Syrian immigrant doctor in Toronto who can't get work so he takes a job in his uncle's restaurant. Then one fateful night, everything changes...
Hamza Haq should be a shoo-in for a Best Actor Grammy for his portrayal of the lead character. He plays the part with a grace, subtlty, and sympathy that seems effortless. And yet he also plays it with a certain level of detatchment that somebody who lived through the horror of civil war in Syria would have to have. It's sublimely perfect, and I don't know how he manages it. Far too many actors would go over-the-top with the material, which is the exact opposite of what the part needs. No, Haq manages to get everything perfect and strike the right note every time.
That alone would be remarkable. But it's just the beginning. The writing is top-notch and the supporting cast is equally excellent. Which is a good thing because there are times that the story will push Dr. Hamed to the background despite him being the main character. It's a brilliant play, because he's all the more impactful when he's in the spotlight.
If Transplant doesn't top my favorite shows of 2020, I will be very surprised. It's so good that NBC started airing it here in the States. The first episode aired last night, so I'm guessing it is being shown Tuesdays on NBC. If you missed it, you can sign up for a free account at PeacockTV.com and watch the first episode at no charge!
If you're looking for a way to kill time during quarantine, this is well worth a look.
Posted on Sunday, September 6th, 2020
Summer doesn't seem to be ending any time soon, but don't let 100° days get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Growth! I don't remember how I ran across this video, but it's really, really cool...
Jake and Jenny seemed to grow up exactly this fast.
• Squirrel! I somehow missed this amazing Mark Rober video, which is a must see...
His channel is one of those that I wish posted more often... but you just know that it wouldn't be this good if he did.
• Die! And the new James Bond trailer is out...
Looks almost worth risking your life going to a movie theater for!
• Expecting! I watched the HBO Max series Expecting Amy which is absolutely fascinating. Not because of Amy Schumer, but because of her husband Chris Fischer. In her Netflix special, Growing, her talking about him and his being on the autism spectrum is the absolute best part of the show. In Expecting Amy you get to see the reverse side of it all. The guy seems as sweet as can be and is a massively famous chef, so he's a lot more than "just Amy Schumer's husband."
So, yeah, worth a look. And also watch their cooking show Amy Schumer Learns to Cook on Food Network.
• Bash! Earlier this week I had mentioned that NBC had picked up the amazing medical drama, Transplant, starring Hamza Haq. I know absolutely nothing about the guy, so I searched YouTube for some interviews. He does not disappoint...
But the real treat was spending the day with him during Ramadan during quarantine...
Very much looking forward to a second season.
• Christie! Back when cable TV first came to town, we got a 6-month trial package that included HBO or Showtime or both or something. It was then that I discovered that one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels, Death on the Nile, had been turned into a film. I watched it many, many times. Now, after a successful remake of Murder on the Orient Express, we're getting a remake of Death on the Nile as well...
Interesting to note that both versions of the film has quite a few name-brand stars...
|ROLE||1978 VERSION||2020 VERSION|
|Hercule Poirot||Peter Ustinov||Kenneth Branagh|
|Louise Bourget||Jane Birkin||Rose Leslie|
|Linnet Ridgeway Doyle||Lois Chiles||Gal Gadot|
|Marie Van Schuyler||Bette Davis||Jennifer Saunders|
|Jacqueline de Bellefort||Mia Farrow||Emma Mackey|
|Mr. Ferguson||Jon Finch|
|Rosalie Otterbourne||Olivia Hussey||Letitia Wright|
|Manager of the Karnak||I.S. Johar|
|Andrew Pennington||George Kennedy|
|Andrew Kathchadourian||Ali Fazal|
|Salome Otterbourne||Angela Lansbury||Sophie Okonedo|
|Simon Doyle||Simon MacCorkindale||Armie Hammer|
|Colonel Race||David Niven|
|Mrs. Bowers||Maggie Smith||Dawn French|
|Dr. Ludwig Bessner||Jack Warden||Russell Brand|
Looks like it will be worth a look!
And that's the end of that. No more bullets to be had this week.
Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2020
I have a terrible reaction to smoke... mostly revolving around cramping and a bloody nose. It's been this way for as long as I can remember, which has always made camping problematic. Usually I can just escape to another part of the state when everything is on fire but that would be tough this time even if there weren't a pandemic. The smoke is bad just about everywhere...
And so... not a fun time to be me.
Last night I thought I would take some sleeping pills and ride it out until this morning. But then I woke to what looked like a murder scene in my bed and the smoke worse than ever. I have a spill-proof mattress cover, so my mattress was okay... but I think the sheets are a goner. Fortunately I have three sets exactly the same, so I have more available to destroy tonight.
There was a bright spot in my day, however... the new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery is here...
After an incredible first season, I was let down a bit by the second. But now things are looking very interesting for the third...
Despite now being set hundreds of years into the future, Michelle Yeoh is back as Mirror-Universe Georgiou, which is odd since she will be heading the new Section 31 show sometime in the future back in the present(!)...
But we knew she was coming back. Somebody I didn't know was coming back (but am thrilled that they are) is Tig Notaro as Jett Reno!
And speaking of Tig Notaro, I rewatched her documentary this weekend...
If you haven't seen it and have Netflix, it's well worth your time.
And now I guess I'm back to feeling sick. Blergh.
Posted on Sunday, September 13th, 2020
The world may be on fire, but don't let that dissuade you from pulling out the marshmallows... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Transplant! I've written a couple times about my favorite show of 2020, the Canadian medical drama Transplant. It's just fantastic television and deserves a look. If you're heere in the US, NBC is airing it on Tuesdays and on their Peacock streaming service. Today I found out that Apple iTunes Store is offering a Season Pass for all 13 episodes for $25. It didn't take me even one second to purchase it, even though I already have Canadian recordings of all the episodes. I support shows I like by purchasing them whenever I possibly can. This was a no-brainer.
• Farmer! In an age where laughs are getting harder to find, this was exactly what I needed...
Almost makes me want to get on TikTok to keep up with him.
• HEADLINE! Face masks could be giving people Covid-19 immunity, researchers suggest. Not that anything wil ever dissuade the dumb-fuck anti-mask brigade, but any news is good news, right?
• Float! Apple sure does know how to create amazing retail spaces. Every store I've visited around the world... even the most basic... is incredible. My favorites are those which take classic old buildings and turns them into jaw-dropping shops. But there's something to be said for their mind-blowing original creations...
Apple Stores are practically destination-worthy. If we were in different times, I'd take a diversion to Singapore to see this marvel.
• New New Order! One of my all-time favorite bands has released new music!
It's different. But as a huge fan of dream-pop, this half-step in that direction is not something I hate. I actually rather like it, even though it's not what I was expecting.
• Lunch! Yesterday I was going to get up at 7am, get some bread started, clean the kitchen, put another coat of paint on the cabinets, then cook up a vegetable bake with dumplings for lunch. But then I took one look out my window as smoke was pouring into the valley and decided I'd sleep until noon. This was lunch...
Now-a-days, you do what you can do and try not to feel like a failure for not doing what you feel you should be doing. Just getting up in the morning to feed my cats was doing good during a pandemic. But while the world is on fire during a pandemic? Vodka Coke and frozen veggie corn dogs is a frickin' miracle.
And now... once more into the breach.
Posted on Monday, September 14th, 2020
I am not ashamed to say that I am most definitely not doing well.
Not only is Central Washington being blanketed with smoke from our own wildfires, massive amounts of smoke is being blown in from the fires in Oregon and California as well. And despite five air purifiers running day and night, my allergies are in overdrive, making for a miserable existance. I have had a crushing headache for a week. Breathing is painful. Nosebleeds happen at random. My eyes and nose are running almost constantly. Sleep is almost impossible. Not a great day to be me, that's for sure...
Last night I finally passed out around 2:30am. I woke up shortly after 3:00am choking on blood from yet another nosebleed. That is a scary enough way to wake up... but I had aspirated and couldn't breath. The wheezing as I struggled to catch a breath freaked my cats, both of which ran out of the room at top speed. Eventually I managed to work through it, but getting back to sleep was impossible. I called in sick and have been nodding off and on ever since.
Poor Jake and Jenny. The fires have been so tough on them.
After terrifying her early-early this morning, Jenny ended up sleeping in the room next to mine...
Jake... is more complicated. He has been really clingy lately and sleeping with me every night. After he ran out scared, I heard him come walking back in about an hour later. He didn't hop back on the bed, so I wasn't sure where he went. This morning I found him hiding in the cat tower...
My cats rarely go in those hidey-holes. As in very rarely. But Jake wanted to sleep near me while also being scared and this was his solution. Naturally I feel terrible about it. Note the smoke out my window.
And so here I am taking a sick day at home with two cats who are afraid of me.
In-between trying not to work because it makes my headache worse, I've been zoning out in front of the television. One think I saw today was that Drew Barrymore has a new talk show. I was interested in seeing how they were going to manage a new talk show, fully expecting it to be remote chats on Zoom or something. But that wasn't the case. Drew's Charlie's Angels co-stars Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu were there with her... albeit socially distanced...
That wasn't the case at all. While Drew nd Lucy were in New York... Cameron was still in Los Angeles, appearing in the studio virtually...
Weird to think that things like this will quickly become our new normal.
In the meanwhile I'll just go back to the virtual hellscape that's my life right now.
Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2020
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. So much stuff happened yesterday and today that I'm having back-to-back bullet posts. So sit back and enjoy... because an all new Bullet Sunday Monday starts... now...
• Watch! My new Apple Watch Series 6 arrived in the time-frame Apple actually promised (which was not expected given their track record). It's bigger than the Waze Band I had been "training" myself to wear, but I think I'll do okay. I just wish they could find a way to slim the thing down so it doesn't look and feel so massive when you have skinny arms like I do. Because, seriously, this is the small watch...
The height is just so offensively big. How about your big "feature" for Series 7 is a thinner watch, Apple...
I have many, many thoughts already (the first being HOLY CRAP! THE BLACK BAND IS NOT BLACK AND THE GREY COLOR IS NOT THE SAME COLOR TONE AS THE SPACE GREY WATCH?!? WTF, APPLE?!?), so a blog post will land in a day or two.
• Make Mine Marvel! The first trailer for WandaVision dropped and it looks pretty bonkers. Like they're channeling Leave it to Beaver and Bewitched or something. In the comics, The Scarlet Witch has reality-warping powers that haven't found their way into the MCU movies, but it looks like all that's about to change...
Two things. First, they have made the character costumes from the comic books into Halloween costumes or something, which is a nice nod to the source material for fans...
Second of all... Monica Rambeau, is that you?!?
Can't wait to see WandaVision later this year. Especially since Falcon and The Winter Soldier has been pushed back to next year. This pandemic blows.
• Emmys! Thrilled that Schitt's Creek and Watchmen did so incredibly well. They are some of my favorite television shows of all time, and having that be acknowledged is a bit surprising, if I'm being honest (Regina King OWNED that award!). All well-deserved! Also happy that Zendaya got some love for Euphoria, which was also well-deserved. A little upset that The Good Place was snubbed for their beautiful final episode... and I still don't get all the fawning over Succession, but you can't have everything.
• Cobb! Gutted to learn that Ron Cobb has died. I've been a fan of him and his work for decades. He's been a huge part of some of my favorite movies (including Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Total Recall, The Abyss, Firefly and Back to the Future, to name a few)...
Rest in Peace, sir. You are leaving a legacy that few will ever eclipse.
• Ellen! I have always loved Ellen DeGeneres. Her standup is some of the best and funniest I've ever seen. I liked her talk show, but just couldn't watch any more because the constant audience screaming is annoying as fuck. But still... love Ellen. So when the allegations about abuse on her show started surfacing, I was understandably concerned. It seemd way, way out of left field. A part of me was... "Holy crap! Ellen is not allowed to ever get upset... lose her temper... be angry... be a human? Because I was sure that's what was happening. Ellen is focused on her show, some people expect her to be "on" 24/7, and when she's not or is like... being human... people are upset with her. Which is bullshit. But then so-called "stars" started speaking up and I thought "Well, maybe? But even then in the back of my head I'm going Though perhaps they feel that Ellen didn't treat them enough like a "star" and went looking for nasty things to say? In the end, I honestly don't know. But Ellen finally addressed it all, and I have to say that this is pretty much what I expected...
So... yeah. I'm happy that Ellen took the allegations seriously, fired those who let things get so bad, and is promising to do better. That's all we humans can really do. And maybe since the audience is now "virtual" they will tone down all the fucking screaming so I can watch the show again? Anything is possible.
• Fascism! Holy fucking SHIT! Is anybody giving a crap what's going on in this country? Anybody? We've got a president trying to scare people with outright lies so they vote for him after telling people that he didn't want to cause a panic with the pandemic so he lied to the American people about it? Are you fucking kidding me? I don't give a crap which political party you ascribe to, just look at this shit...
I honestly don't know what to say. If anybody should be outraged about this, it's Republicans. What's happening is diametrically opposed to what Conservatives are SUPPOSED to be about... yet the GOP seems to be doing fucking nothing except enabling the maniac in charge. It's like we're living Bizarro World. Especially when you consider that are alternative to all this is fucking Joe Biden? How fucked is this country? Oh well. At least with Biden we'll (hopefully) not have anti-science Nazi fascism actively working to destroy the country and screw its citizens. Assuming he can get elected... which is not the slam-dunk it should be, alas.
See you tomorrow for a non-bullet post. Or so I assume. Who knows what might happen before then? The world seems to be exploding daily.
Posted on Sunday, September 27th, 2020
September may be coming to a close, but not everything has to end... because an all new Special Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Yikes! Need to be filled with awe and wonder today? Need to be filled with awe and wonder while shitting your pants? Well here you go...
There are some places you'd swear that man was not meant to go. Which is why they go, I suppose.
• Panda! Think wrangling kids is tough? Try looking after pandas...
It's the cutest kind of mischief, I suppose.
• Circles! I may not like a lot of Posty's music... but this song and video are sublime...
That he had a hand in writing it as well just makes it all the mor impressive a track.
• Hello! "912, what's your white emergency?"
• Enola! Looking for something good to watch? Netflix has a movie about Sherlock Holmes's teenage sister, Enola Holmes...
Really, really hope that we will be getting a sequel.
• Ted! Dang. Apple TV Plus is finally releasing shows compelling enough that I may actually want to pay for it when my free subscription runs out. Mythic Quest, Central Park, and Long Way Up are great television. But Ted Lasso is next level. Funny, sweet, and surprisingly deep... it's sure to make my Best of 2020 list...
And to think... Foundation is still on the way!
There it was... that was the last bullet for September.
Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2020
The world won't slow down even for a minute and it's so overwhelming that it's getting tough to know where to turn, what to do, where to go... and how to feel.
I didn't realize exactly how bad it had gotten until I tuned into the season finale of Ted Lasso and felt like bursting into tears two minutes in. As good and inspiring and hopeful as the show is... and it is 100% the best show of 2020... it's just ridiculous that a frickin' TV series should have that kind of effect on a person, right?
Maybe not. Because it ended up being one of the most sublimely perfect episodes to air on the silver screen in the history of television, and you wouldn't be human if you didn't feel like bursting into tears at least ten times while watching it.
A bright spot in the pile of shit that is 2020 to be sure.
As for the rest?
Well... as tempted as I am to show President Trump and his Now-Revealed-to-be-Equally-Horrendous-First-Lady the exact same lack of concern and dismissive attitude that they have afforded the 200,000+ American citizens who have died from COVID-19 or COVID-19-related complications, I'd like to think I'm a better person than that. Because all I can think about is their fourteen-year-old son who has done nothing to deserve losing a parent... or contracting the virus himself... being yet another victim here. His dad may be blaming everything on China when he was ultimately the one to address how we dealt with a global pandemic, but what does Barron have to do with that? Was he the one to say "Hey, dad... I know that countries like Italy have been completely overwhelmed with death and destruction from the coronavirus and you might think we should be acting quickly to make sure it doesn't happen here... but can you instead lie to everybody and tell them it's a hoax that will disappear without us doing anything so that your billionaire friends have their stock investments protected at the expense of American lives?"
Of course not.
So, no. I absolutely do not wish death or harm on anybody here. Instead I'll just say "Best wishes for a speedy recovery Mr. President and First Lady Melania! I'm sure the exceptional round-the-clock health care afforded you both by your wealth and position will ensure you are safe as houses... even though it's a shame that you are doing everything you can to strip even the most basic healthcare from a great many American citizens whose lives you hold in your hands during this crisis."
Well, okay... maybe I do wish that President Trump loses his sense of taste and smell so he can't enjoy all that KFC and McDonald's that he eats... the asshole deserves it after what he's done to this country... but he's a human being like the rest of us and deserves compassion and our best wishes.
Not much of a human being, admittedly, but still... we're all in this together. GO TEAM AMERICA... BREAK!
Posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2020
Everybody's getting the COVID, but all news is not bad news... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Tiny! In addition to Ted Lasso, my favorite show of 2020 (or possibly any year ever) and The Long Way Up (another exceptional program), Apple TV+ has also released a new series called Tiny World...
Fascinating, fascinating stuff. Another homerun for Apple.
• Long! And speaking of The Long Way Up, the series just keeps getting better and better with each new episode. Ewan McGregor has absolutely zero ego in the three The Long Way... series. He never complains about the accommodations. He never complains about the food. He never complains about running into fans. He's just grateful to have a place to stay, something to eat, and people who are friendly towards him. Above all else, he's grateful for the opportunity to be able to experience the world. Contrast and compare to so many travel shows where people are relentless assholes about even the tiniest inconvenience. If you want all the comforts of home and are going to be raving assholes when you don't get it... STAY THE FUCK HOME! Needless to say, I give The Long Way Up my highest recommendation.
• Battle! How I missed this fantastic video with Lin-Manuel Miranda from 2009 is a complete mystery. I guess sometimes I am completely out of the loop with things...
How he does what he does so brilliantly is a mystery. Makes me want to watch Moana for the hundredth time.
• Subway? If you still eat at KidFuckers, you should know that they don’t build their sandwiches on bread... they build them on candy Which is probably all fast food joints, but that's why they taste so good.
• Yup! My brain in a nutshell...
I'm procrastinating cleaning my kitchen with this post!
• Vote! Okay... okay... it can't all be good news, right?
Democracy is under siege, but so long as it's happening to people you don't agree with it's okay, right? Politicians seem to think so. VOTER FRAUD IS EXCEEDINGLY RARE! But facts don't matter anymore, I guess.
And that's all I got this Sunday.
Posted on Sunday, October 11th, 2020
Time to make time to be kind as the world crumbles around us... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Lume! If we are COVID-controlled by the time The Lume's immersive Vincent Van Gogh exhibit comes to the Newfields Museum in Indianapolis, I'm so there. Van Gogh is my most favorite painter, and I suffered through an episode of the abysmal Emily in Paris (on Netflix) just to look at this exhibit from when it was in Paris...
Kinda shocked that this hasn't been to Amsterdam. That would be a much better fit for the experience given that this is where the Van Gogh Museum is located!
• Free! As a huge Ryan Reynolds fan, I've been looking forward to the movie Free Guy... and my anticipation just kicked up a notch with the latest trailer...
From what I've read, there's already a sequel in development because Ryan Reynolds loved the movie so much. No clue if movie studios are even going to be in the business of making films now that movie theaters are shuttering and attendance is plummeting where theaters are open. Heaven only knows I'd rather bypass theaters since the experience is so shity now-a-days... even without COVID-drenched audiences in tow.
• Trek! The final episode of the new Trek cartoon show, Star Trek: Lower Decks came out and I still don't know what to make of it. It's too adult for kids, but it lacks biting stories to appeal to adults. It aims to be funny, but doesn't have big laughs thanks to lazy comedy tropes. And I while I guess this can exist along-side the Star Trek shows and movies... it seems an odd fit since it is essentially a parody of Trek and doesn't really go anywhere except within it's own bubble. The finale had Riker and Troi in it, but not really...
Oh well. I did find the show entertaining enough to keep watching. I would not be made about there being a second season. I just hope they push it a little harder to make it stand out in the world of Star Trek instead of recede like it's doing now.
• Diagnosis! President Trump catching COVID is hardly surprising. He holds super-spreader events, doesn't practice social-distancing, rarely wears a mask, and regularly hangs out with people who are proudly proclaiming their ignorance when it comes to the coronavirus. It was only a matter of time. And THEN... once he got it he was given every conceivable treatment for mild symptoms... treatment that "regular" people have to be on death's door to get. Regardless of how you feel about our impeached leader, there were mistakes on all sides of the president's diagnosis and the media storm around it. This is a fairly balanced critique courtesy of Dr. Mike...
I remain dumbfounded that there are people who still don't take this shit seriously. And it starts at the top.
• Your'e! This is one of the best things I've seen all week courtesy of Captain Kate McCue's TikTok...
• DO NOT CALL OR TEXT! Despite telling The Democrats and The Republicans several times that I do not want them calling and texting me and to please remove me from their lists, I keep getting them. And when I complain I'm told that there are multiple lists and names get spread from one to the other. Which means it will never stop...
I don't think people understand how awful unsolicited contact is. When my mom was alive and had to be moved to a facility, every single phone call was dread-inducing. Are they calling to tell me she is sick again? Are they calling to tell me she broke the other hip? Are they calling to tell me she's dead? Alerts for texts like this were a complete nightmare. And now that she's gone it's not much better. Most every time I get a phone call... and at least half the time when I get a text... it's bad news. Just hearing my phone alert me that somebody is calling or texting is triggering. Is another one of my friends dead? Is somebody in my family in the hospital? What horrible even is it now? This fucking sucks when it's somebody calling that I KNOW. But when it's somebody I DON'T KNOW who is sending a text or a call that I DON'T WANT and DIDN'T ASK FOR? Fuck that. It is an invasion of my privacy and my life and it should be ILLEGAL.
• What? Holy shit. This is absolute insanity...
And it just gets worse...
I've been working my way through David Pakman's video catalog and occasionally come across stuff like this which defies belief. I would come unglued. Credit to Pakman for staying sane while addressing this guy, because it's all I can do to stay sane just watching.
• Beouf! I may detest Shia LaBeouf's "acting"... but holy crap what a great guy! This is awesome!
I sure wish I could get past his work on such travesties as Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Man Down, and the shitty Transformers movies. Apparently his last two films (Honey Boy and The Peanut Butter Falcon) don't suck but I've refused to watch them! I dunno. Maybe one day I'll have to get over it and just give them a try.
And I guess that's the end of my bullets this fine Sunday.
Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020
Thanks to my volunteer work, I am accustomed to working with people who have unfathomable wealth. And while I can't speak for all of the vastly wealthy persons on earth, those I've worked with for charitable causes have also been unfathomably generous.
But just because I am accustomed to it doesn't mean that I am used to it. You never get used to being next to that kind of wealth. When you get to a certain financial level, money loses all meaning. You don't look at price tags. You don't care what something costs. You know you can afford it regardless of how much it is, so you don't have to care.
One of my many functions was to assist donors and their families before and after my meetings. Mostly in Las Vegas. Arranging for translators. Making reservations. Looking into custom experiences. Finding transportation. Researching people, places, and things. I pretty much had to do it all. Or at least be in charge of finding the people who could actually do it. Some of my friends familiar with my work assumed this made me a "Vegas Insider" but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure I could drop a name to jump a line from time to time, but unless you have millions upon millions of dollars, I really can't help you. Anything I might have an inside track for would be way above your price range.
I never minded being on-call 24/7 to assist absurdly wealthy people with their desires, questions, concerns, and problems. As somebody who loves adventure and likes to travel, it was like visiting an entirely new world. I got to see things most people probably think they know from watching TV shows and movies, but the reality is wildly different. At least most of the time it is.
I could blog for months about all of the stuff I arranged or was witness to. Mind-blowing stuff. Funny stuff. Inexplicable stuff. Obscene stuff. Crazy stuff. In the decade I spent volunteering, I saw it all. For obvious reasons, I can't talk about any of it. People entrusted me with discretion, and the last thing I would ever do was break that trust.
I can give some examples though!
On one of my last trips I had to work with a store to arrange for a jewelry purchase to be securely transported. I never found out what the purchase was (the translator /slash/ personal shopping assistant I worked with would only mouth the words "holy shit" when I enquired) but you just know that hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions of dollars?) was on the line to require that kind of fuss to be made. I was so nervous about it that I personally oversaw the loading/unloading.
On another trip I had to arrange shipment of a painting. And, no, I didn't walk it across the street to Kinkos. The gallery just needed me to provide details, gather information, contact a customs broker... that kind of stuff. And then I had to sign off on it all. The insured price was just over $6 million. I broke out into a cold sweat and asked to know what I was signing for. The agent took me to a private viewing room where the work was still set up for examination. Once I saw it, my legs turned to jelly. "Is the artist who I think it is?!?" I somehow managed get out. "Oh yes."
Many times I was asked to arrange for dining and show tickets and other mundane things. Except it is never really mundane when you do it for the people I was assisting. Restaurants and shows which are fully booked or sold out to me suddenly because no problem for them because money starts getting involved. And while I was forbidden from accepting gifts or anything (the sole exception being additional donations, of course!), I did get to experience life behind the golden curtain from time to time. I would receive permission to attend a private dinner... or an event... or otherwise indulge in a life far removed from my own. After a culinary tour I thanked my host because the vegetarian courses were some of the best food of my life. "I'm so happy you enjoyed it!" they replied. Later I found out that the chef who prepared the food and accompanied us was world-famous. I also found out that the cost per person for the event was $7,500 plus expenses. For 16 people. I was aghast... until I found out the $120,000 was all donated. Then I was aghast in a different way.
Since the pandemic shut down my volunteerism and my travel, I don't know if I will ever again get to drift through the private world of the über wealthy. Something tells me I might be done... even if the organization I work with starts up once more. That kind of travel and that kind of work takes a toll on you after a while.
Instead I get my unobtainable wealth fix like everybody else does... by watching TV shows and movies!
My obsession right now is Island Hunters...
It's like House Hunters and House Hunters International but instead of choosing from three houses to buy, these people are choosing from three islands.
Now, right off the bat I have to say... the people on this show are not what is considered "über wealthy." They have budgets, which is something truly über wealthy people just don't have.
But they might as well be über wealthy as far as I'm concerned. Because you won't see me touring million-dollar islands and being all worried as to where I can put the caretakers and servants so they don't intrude on my experience! And I certainly have never had to figure out where to build a helipad, that's for sure.
The show is kinda bonkers.
Island #1 is the right size, on-budget, and has a nice beach... but neighboring islands are too close and the existing house is not at all adequate and would have to be torn down so something more acceptable could be built!
Island #2 is under-budget with fantastic views, but is smaller and undeveloped... so it would take money and time before it was ready for construction and the house would only be 3,000 square feet.
Island #3 has gorgeous beaches, plenty of land, a great dock, and a home which would work with extensive renovation... but it's over-budget.
WHICH ISLAND WILL THEY CHOOSE?!?
I am really hoping that one day I'll be watching an episode and the buyer says "I just can't decide... so I want to buy all three!" because that's more in-line with what an über wealthy person would say.
Wealth is wasted on the wealthy. Wealth should really be given to somebody like me who knows how to spend it properly! So if any über wealthy person out there wants to make sure their money is spent right, my email address is in the sidebar of every page!
Posted on Sunday, November 1st, 2020
The ghost and goblins may be gone, but spirits still linger... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Tres Lassos! My favorite show of all time, Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ was just renewed for a third season, even though they haven't started filming the second season yet...
Sad to think that it could be up to a year before there's any more Ted Lasso to watch, but at least there's new Ted Lasso coming. If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth a free trial at Apple TV+ to binge the show.
• Bond, James Bond! Standing out in the news of the week was James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery dying at 90 years old. My first "Bond" was Roger Moore in Moonraker in 1979, but once VHS home video allowed me to see all the earlier 007 movies, I was obviously blown away by the cool-calm that Connery brought to the role...
Though his work as Bond is probably my favorite role, he has plenty of other movies which made me a fan of his work. Of course Highlander immediately comes to mind. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, The Name of the Rose, Rising Sun, Playing By Heart, and The Rock were also flicks made memorable because he was in them. It's tough for me to reconcile being a fan of his work with his misogynistic bullshit, however... most famously with his infamous Playboy interview where he advocated slapping women. One could argue that he was a victim of the times he lived in because he said it in 1965, but he totally doubled-down on the idea over two decades later in a Barbara Walters interview. It wasn't until 2006 where he finally tried to walk back his idiotic stance, but an autobiography by his first wife alleged that he physically battered her, so seeing him as anything but an abusive asshole isn't easy. But you could almost say the same for James Bond in general. I guess the only thing left for me to say is "Rest in Peace."
• Happy! Fell down another TikTok rabbit hole while waiting for my clothes to finish in the dryer last night and got this video suggested to me... and I honestly don't know whether to be happy about it or break down in tears. It's heartbreaking to think that there are people who would wish this kind of thing upon a teenager. And yet we just got a new Supreme Court Justice who thinks that sexuality is a "preference" and will almost certainly interpret our laws accordingly. It's tough not to be disheartened by such events, but maybe videos like this one will change hearts and change minds so that we can celebrate people being who they are... and kids don't have to spend their young lives wondering if they will ever be allowed to be happy.
• Human Gaze! Isn't this how The Stepford Wives got started?
Or at least Westworld. In either scenario... not a great day for humanity.
• Maggie! As if the casting of Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher wasn't brilliant enough... this promo for the upcoming fourth season of The Crown has a cover of "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths attached!
After this, there's only two seasons left to go. Then I guess the monarchy just ends? Or something?
• Semi-Annual! Here we are again... my second of two posts each year where I say that ending Daylight Saving Time is FUCKING STUPID. Either make D.S.T. permanent or fucking split the difference because I am seriously over this moronic bullshit. I thought that Washington State had put an end to the insanity, but apparently federal approval is required...
If the E.U. can pull their fucking heads out of their asses and put an end to this crap next year, why can't the USA? Because our federal government is too fucking busy lining their own fucking pockets and giving lobbyist blow-jobs for fucking reelection cash instead of serving the American fucking people. That's why. Time to fucking overhaul the government so lawmakers do their fucking job instead of become useless career assholes? Oh probably.
• New Mando! I swear, The Mandalorian has no right to be as good as it is. If you like all things "Star Wars" and haven't seen it, might be worth a Disney+ free trial to take a look. The second season just started and the first issue is great...
A better take on Star Wars than the prequels or sequels... and right up there with Solo and Rogue One which I loved. Kind of amazing how Jon Favreau kicked off the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe and is responsible for saving Star Wars. I hope Disney is paying him really, really well.
And that's your post-Halloween bullets for the day.
Posted on Sunday, November 8th, 2020
The election may be (mostly) over, but don't destress just yet... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• FAME! One of my earliest blogging friends is Heather Scarbro Dobson (formerly of Coal Miner's Granddaughter). She's an author and paranormal investigator living in Georgia. We've met up several times when I was in town for work and I've been on two investigations with her. The first was to Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky in 2011 (which I wrote about here). It was on that trip where we saw a board that had photos of all the "famous" paranormal teams who had investigated there. I knew none of them. But one of the photos stood out because it was a glossy, fully-staged production which had a team of brooding, pouty badboys... and it was autographed!
I mentioned to Heather that their tagline might as well be "Bustin' Ghosts and Breakin' Hearts!" And ever since then we've been joking back and forth about who the sexiest member of the team was. She picked Chris, I picked his brother Brannon, and we've had a faux fight going on ever since...
I mean, seriously, Brannon is totally the hottest, amiright? Anyway, Heather writes about the time that we met up in Jefferson City to go on an investigation with The Wraith Chasers in her new book, Recollections of a Future Ghost...
Naturally I wrote about the trip here on Blogography. If you want to read about it, here's your link.
• Count! I laughed way, way too hard at this...
The best part about visiting Australia is the Australians.
• Chappelle Show! Just like after the last election, the host for Saturday Night Live this election was Dave Chappelle. He is one of my most favorite comedians because his form of insightful commentary illuminates in a way comedy so rarely does...
"Don't let hunger dictate your life" is almost prophetic about where we're headed.
• Trebek! Many times, the host of a game show just has to rely on their personality to get the job done. It's not like Pat Sajak requires anything past the bare minimum of smarts to get through a game of Wheel of Fortune. But the host of a show like Jeopardy really has to be on their toes. They have to review all the clues prior to the show. Be sure to grab the right clue from 30 clues. Read the clue in a fluid way that makes it easy to understand. And be sure to pronounce even the most complex words from clues correctly in order for them to be correct. On top of having a winning personality. Alex Trebek has done all this by reading the answers on Jeopardy in the most brilliant way possible for years. That alone deserves kudos... but the fact that he was such a good sport about being lampooned over it all was what made him so beloved...
Trebek was parodied for years on Saturday Night Live, but the best bit was when the Alex Trebek himself made a cameo appearance...
Business Insider did a really cool behind-the-scenes with Trebek last year...
But my favorite appearance out of everything he's ever done? When he was a man in black on The X-Files...
What a sport. I've been watching Alex Trebek on Jeopardy for most of my life... and was saddened that he passed away at 80 years old today, losing his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was a truly great and talented personality and will be missed.
• Masked! At this point, I don't know why anything more on this subject needs to be said, but here you go...
Science has laid it all out on the table. There it is. Masks can halt the horrific effect of the pandemic and save lives. But too many people refuse to fucking listen, so here we are.
• Maya! I tell you... every single time I see Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris speak, all I can think of is just how totally on-point Maya Rudolph's impression of her is...
I sure hope that this means we'll be seeing more of her on Saturday Night Live!
• Burn! Soooo... is Bernie Sanders psychic?!? No. He just saw what so many people saw was going to happen...
"For whatever reason?" Come on, Bernie. Democrats were specifically told by Biden to vote safely by mail. Republicans were specifically told by Trump to vote in person. What happened is exactly what was always going to happen given how Republicans were cutting into Post Office operations, restricting drop-off locations, and doing whatever they can to delay or eliminate votes coming by mail... up to and including calling those votes "illegal" with no evidence at all. What's funny is that they also dictated in some states that votes couldn't be counted as they were received, but instead had to be counted after Election Day... once again to provide the illusion that votes were being "found" after Election Day. It's such a transparent load of bullshit. But that's politics for you. Don't hate the players, hate the game for allowing this kind of stupid shit to keep happening.
And that's your election coverage for this fine Sunday.
Posted on Sunday, November 15th, 2020
Washington State may be going back into quarantine, but the blogging will continue... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hallmark! Just in case you're curious... yes, I am watching all the new 2020 Hallmark Christmas movies (and Hallmark-like imitators) which you can see right here. Looks like I'd save myself a lot of time if I just watched this...
This is so accurate that I feel attacked!
• Drink! And while we're talking Hallmark... FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MOVIE DIRECTORS... STOP GIVING ACTORS EMPTY FUCKING CUPS TO "ACT" WITH! IT NEVER WORKS. IT ALWAYS LOOKS STUPID AND FAKE WITHOUT WEIGHT IN IT, AND IT MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE AN INCOMPETENT DUMBASS FOR NOT KNOWING THIS. And it's ten times WORSE when you then have them actually pretend to drink from the stupid thing. NO ACTOR ON THIS EARTH CAN MAKE PRETEND-DRINKING LOOK AUTHENTIC SO GIVE IT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!!! This should be Directing 101.
• Wallet! I like the idea of the MagSafe connector on the back of my new iPhone 12 Pro Max because it seems a smart way to stick stuff to your phone and stick your phone to stuff. Handy. Apple's first product was the MagSafe charging puck which aligns a wireless charger to your phone precisely for optimal charging. I ordered one even though it feels overprices because the Max is so large I can't see my Qi charger under it very well. The second product is a leather card wallet. The reviews were fairly savage... fueled by the usual anti-Apple bias that seeps into even Apple fan sites. The main complaints are A) It only holds 3 or 4 cards, and B) It falls off too easily. I thought this was silly because A) If you want to hold more than 3 or 4 cards, get a wallet, and B) If you want something that glues to your phone, get some velcro. Personally my two complaints are A) It's seriously expensive at $60, and B) I'd rather it not be made from leather. And now this...
Exactly. Nailed it. Now I kinda want one. And would consider it if it were $40 instead of $60. Oh well.
• Plan! Oh wow! They did a quarantine episode of Plan Coeur (AKA The Hook Up Plan)! And it's good! No worries, they have subtitles in English available on Netflix. You will definitely want to watch both the first and second seasons in order to know what's happening, however. Fortunately Netflix has those as well...
This show would have been so much better without Elsa's stupid-as-hell overreaction with becoming "natural." It went way, way overboard and I cannot fathom how they thought it was a good storyline for her. So idiotic. But everybody else was great. And that ending was worth it. Can't wait for the third season.
• Coke! Looks like the Coca-Cola Company were smart enough to hire Taika Waititi to direct this bit of Christmas magic...
No polar bears in this one, but still pretty darn good.
• TAKE MY MONEY! Anybody who reads my blog might know that my character of "Bad Monkey" is an unholy mashup of Curious George and Max the bunny from Sam & Max. Now Nintendo Switch is getting a remaster of one of their classic video game adaptation...
I played the game ages ago. I can't wait to revisit it again.
• Symptomatic. "People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings ... show this to be likely," said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford. — So... yeah... all the more reason to do your best to not contract COVID-19, as if there weren't enough reasons already. Pity the deniers keep dragging this out and making it worse for all of us.
And that's the end of bullets as I return to more even isolation than I was already isolating.
Posted on Sunday, November 22nd, 2020
Time may wait for no one, but time definitely waits for this blog... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Wonder Max! And so... Wonder Woman 84 is coming to HBO Max on Christmas Day. And I will absolutely be subscribing to HBO Max for a month to watch it. My enthusiasm for theaters has lessened more and more over the years thanks to rude people talking on phones and texting... theaters not replacing projector bulbs when they start to dim... and the absurd cost of snacks. The only time I ever go to theaters are to watch the latest Marvel Studios films or when invited by friends. I'm MUCH happier watching at home. And yet... some of the big budget films (like Marvel Studios movies) rely on box office revenue to justify the money investment. If theaters go under because they can't wait out the pandemic, what does that mean for the movies I love?
Still... kudos to HBO Max for not charging extra to see the film like Disney+ did with Mulan.
• Maximum! The advertising "feud" between Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman keeps getting better...
But they've been pretty funny in their own ads as well...
Even when they appear in each other's ads...
And let's not forget Ryan's ad from last Christmas...
If only all of Hollywood put such effort into their charity endeavors.
• Hallmark? Let's see...
Big city executive goes back to their small town for Christmas: ✓ CHECK!
Small town has an unbelievably wholesome and cheesy name: ✓ CHECK!
White cast, but Person of Color best friend: ✓ CHECK!
Runs into some country hick that gets dismissed: ✓ CHECK!
Country hick has unexpected depth that city-slicker was too ignorant to see: ✓ CHECK!
Christmas romance ensues: ✓ CHECK!
Man and woman live happily ever after: WAIT ONE DANG MINUTE!!!
Not Hallmark after all... Paramount Network.
• Life Day! I am old enough that I actually saw the original Star Wars Holiday Special back in 1978 when it aired on television. Back then it was the only new "Star Wars" available since the movie was released the previous year. It was horrifically bad. Phenomenally horrifically bad. Forty-two years later and LEGO is giving us an all new version...
While nothing great, it's darn clever... mashing up all the various Star Wars characters throughout space and time. It's also funny. And far, far, better than the original live-action version. That's LEGO for you.
• Muties! I detested the FOX X-Men movies. They were all pathetic cash-grabs that in no way lived up to the promise of the comic book source material. I did like X-Men: First Class and kinda liked The Wolverine, but that's it. Everything else was garbage. When it comes to The New Mutants, I was a fan of the comic book during its Claremont and Sienkiewicz run. The movie is very loosely inspired by their "Demon Bear Saga" story arc from The New Mutants 18-20...
What was promoted as a super-hero horror flick wasn't very scary at all. I was 100% bored and regret having spent $6 to rent the thing. It's mostly just angsty teens calling each other "bitch" and "asshole." What a waste. But, as the final film from the whole FOX Marvel super-hero era, why did I expect it to be anything else?
• Do You Know Bo? As good as The Mandalorian was in its first season, it's really knocking things out of the park in the second season. The most current episode is the best thing to come out of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. I won't spoil it. But I will say that LAST week's episode was incredibly rewarding. Especially if you watched The Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons...
Look, there's some things that don't quite add up with Bo-Katan, I am fully admitting this. But can we just be happy that she made the leap from animation to The Mandalorian? Can't we just be grateful that Katee Sackhoff was asked to play the character since she was the voice in the original cartoons? Can't we just assume that some things about her appearance won't be explained, and we'll just have to fill in the gaps with TV magic or something? Because, I gotta say, her showing up caused me to squeeeee my ass off. In The Big Picture this works just fine. Don't get caught up on too many of the tiny details... just enjoy it.
And that's enough bullets for me. I'm out of time after all.
Posted on Sunday, November 29th, 2020
The holiday season is officially upon us, but don't start celebrating just yet... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Friend! Oh wow. They made a film out of The Friend: Love is Not a Big Enough Word. I read this so many times when taking care of my mom that I practically have it memorized. I hope it's a good film. It looks like it could be...
It's difficult to see how a movie can compete with the power of the original article, but I'm keeping an open mind.
• Rook! My dad taught me how to play chess when I was fairly young. It wasn't really a game I was interested in, so I never played it much. In high school I'd play an occasional game for something to do, but I didn't really care enough to study so I was never terribly good. During my gap year I had a new found interest in the game and started playing via the internet. I got fairly good, read a few books on chess theory, and could hold my own by the time I started college. I haven't played a game since. It was for this reason I had decided to skip The Queen's Gambit when it debuted on Netflix. But the reviews were so stellar that I ended up watching it the following week...
It's a really good series. The acting is excellent and the way they communicate the strategy and energy of the game is terrific. But the best part is the production values. They are exceptional. They've recreated the 1960's right down to the last detail, and I ended up watching parts of it again last night just to look at the appliances, automobiles, dishware, music, clothing, and all the other things which made it such an experience to watch. If you've got a Netflix subscription and haven't seen it, I'd recommend giving it a look.
• Bai! If there's something which lessens the horror of having to vote for Joe Biden, it's that Ajit Pai is losing his job as FCC Chairman. He went out of his way to work against the best interest of the American people by trying to give corporations control of our privacy and our lives. He's a disgusting special-interest-sellout and a colossal asshole who should really be jailed for treason...
I guess now Pai will take a high-paying job with one of the many compies he sold us out to. Just wait for it. It's a revolving door that's as predictable as a sunrise. And until we get money the fuck out of our politics, this is how it's always going to be. Our government is for sale, and we're paying for the privilege of getting screwed by by the people we elect to serve us.
• FAKE! I know I post a lot of these "Deep Fakes" comparisons to special effects which cost magnitudes more money... but I just find it fascinating. This one is phenomenal. Such a huge improvement over what you see in the movie. It almost makes me wish that Disney would invest the money to redo Jeff Bridges face in Tron: Legacy. And Carrie Fischer and Peter Cushing's faces in Star Wars: Rogue One...
It's just so good.
• Better! It was the 10th anniversary of Joel Burns epic "It Gets Better" speech in October...
It seems like it was yesterday. But I go back to Bullet Sunday No. 202 from October 17th, 2010, and there it is. Boy time flies.
• Control? Unless you're buying into government propaganda, you already know how the U.S. pandemic response was a badly-botched job which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of people. But it's still surprising to see it laid out all in one place...
If you can watch it (on Hulu) without getting very, very angry, you're a better person than I am.
And that's Enough bullets for this week.
Posted on Sunday, December 6th, 2020
I may be spending my day celebrating, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten about this blog... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Happy Birthday! Jake and Jenny were feral rescues, so their birthdate is kinda-sorta estimated. I think. Maybe the person who found them knew the exact date and reported it when they got to the Humane Society, I'm not sure. In any event, December 6th is what's on all their paperwork and their insurance, so this is the day I wish them a Happy Birthday. And this year I am actually home to tell them "Happy Birthday" in person, which is rare. They weren't available for adoption until they got out of foster care and were fixed, and that was February 16th, 2016 (meaning these photos are of them when they were 2 months and 11 days old)...
They were both so scared that it took weeks before I was even allowed to touch them. Most of their time was spent hiding under the couch. Jake was easily motivated by food (and still is) but Jenny took much longer because she's so much more cautious (and still is). Adopting them remains one of the best things I've ever done, so happy birthday to my amazing cats!
• AutoSleep! Speaking of my cats... at 3:30am I was awakened by Jake really struggling with a hair ball. My cats rarely have hair balls since I brush them regularly, so I got up to make sure he’s okay and clean up the mess. I would have thought that I dreamed it all, except I've been using the AutoSleep app with my Apple Watch and can verify exactly when I got up...
AutoSleep is an app that has all the data that Apple's own Health app is missing... like the most basic of information, HOW MUCH SLEEP DID I GET? Health just gives you a start and a stop time, leaving you to have to mentally calculate it out, which is plain stupid. AutoSleep does so much more in addition to basic functions, which makes it well worth the $5 price tag, and I highly recommend it for Apple Watch owners who wear theirs to bed at night.
• Dysfunction? Since there are so many assholes still not willing to mask up to stop the spread of COVID, maybe this will motivate them... Another Reason to Wear a Mask: COVID-19 May Cause Erectile Dysfunction. We can only hope. Thanks to way too many people not being careful and acting like the pandemic isn't real... and even more of these people getting together for Thanksgiving despite the risks... hospitals are already starting to reach maximum capacity...
This doesn't just affect people who have serious COVID-19 symptoms and will die without hospitalization, it also affects anybody who get a treatable health problem... like a heart attack... who can't get into a hospital because all the beds are taken by COVID patients. Stop being an asshole. This virus doesn't just kill old and sick people, it can kill anyone. A vaccine is just around the corner (along with even more incredible treatments in the pipeline) and everything can just wait.
• Weight! On November 19th, I reached the heaviest I've ever been... 192 lbs. Usually I try to stay at 170 lbs. and not exceed 180 lbs. because that's when I feel my best, but gave myself a pass because of COVID shit happening. But enough was enough, and I started trying to eat sensibly again. No more Family Size Bag of Lay's Potato Chips in a single day... no more Pop Tarts for breakfast... no potato salad at midnight. Two weeks later I'm down to 186 lbs., which means I've got 16 lbs. to go to get to my goal weight. It's shocking to think that I managed to put on 22 lbs. since March, but when you sit around the house doing fuck-all day after day, I guess that's what can happen. I need to eat better and be more active, because I'm getting old enough that the weight doesn't fall off as easily as it used to. Bring on that vaccine! I want my life (and body) back!
• Mulan? Good Lord is the live-action Mulan a boatload of shit. Very, very beautiful and pretty... but shit. Thank heavens I didn't pay the $30 to see it early... which I was this close to doing because I love the Disney animated classic original so much. The story doesn't even make sense anymore. And they left out Mushu, which is just madness when they've given her magical powers from The Matrix which makes the whole thing fantasy anyway...
Ugh. What a waste of money that could have been put into another Star Wars series or Marvel Studios series for Disney+.
• HEADLINE! Warner Bros. Smashes Box Office Windows, Will Send Entire 2021 Slate to HBO Max and Theaters — In an unprecedented announcement, the studio will send 17 films — including The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad and Dune to its streaming service for 31 days the same day they hit theaters.
Look, as I've stated many, many times, I absolutely hate the "theater experience" any more. Between people texting and talking and letting their kids run around and generally being assholes, it's about the worst form of "entertainment" there is, and I'd rather do just about anything else for fun. The only movies I see in theaters are those that I can't wait for (like Marvel Studios films). Otherwise? No thanks. So, for obvious reasons, I am thrilled by the news that I will be able to watch Dune and The Matrix 4 at home with an HBO Max subscription. But, on the other hand, I wonder what this means for those massively expensive blockbusters that I love. Will they even be able to be made any more if theaters don't exist? My guess is that they will still make them because A) Streaming services are already paying insane amounts of money for movies... B) Special effects are getting cheaper, and expensive actors can be replaced if they refuse to work within the new budgets... and C) This is where the future was headed all along as the home viewing experience gets better and better. So I dunno. I am certainly not rooting for theaters to die off completely... I think they still have a role to fill... but I'm not going to complain about not having to suffer through a theater for the movies I want to watch, that's for sure.
• HEADLINE! Elliot Page, Oscar-Nominated ‘Juno’ Star, Announces He Is Transgender. — Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot,” Page wrote in a statement that he posted on Tuesday
And good for him. I'm thrilled when somebody figures out who they are and what it takes to live their best life at a cost of $0 to me. Because this is not about me! Who Elliot Page is has absolutely zero effect on my life what-so-ever. How great is it that he's got it all figured out, because many people never do. My gender identity was a cakewalk. I'm a man. I've always felt like a man. My genitals align perfectly with who I am at my very core. I've only ever been attracted to women. I've only ever had sex with women. And I can't imagine somebody telling me that I can't be who I am... just like I can't imagine somebody feeling entitled enough to tell Elliot Page who they are either. Whether you accept it or not, transgender persons exist. And when they have the strength to come out to the world, it will undoubtedly save lives. Far too many transgender kids are killing themselves because they can't picture a world that they could ever exist in. Elliot Page shows them that they can.
Now it's time to stop slinging bullets so I can go serve Ocean Fish Pate "birthday cakes" to my fuzzy kids. Be safe, everybody.
Posted on Sunday, December 13th, 2020
I'm set adrift on memory bliss... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Star Wars on Disney+! There were loads of announcements at Disney’s Investor Day 2020 event, and there was a lot of gold to be found for pop culture geeks like me. So let's dig in, shall we?
• Star Wars Movies! While there were some parts of the sequel trilogy that were okay, the movies as a whole were disappointing. A mediocre rehashing of far better stories that had already been told. And nobody was sadder about that than me. Then The Mandalorian came along and suddenly I was thinking that perhaps Disney+ was the best future for Star Wars. Until... Taika Waititi was brought onboard to create a new movie and I was excited again. No details have been released on that, but we did find out that Patty Jenkins (of Wonder Woman fame) is developing Rogue Squadron about the best of the best X-Wing fighter pilots, and I am understandably intrigued by the possibilities...
"The greatest fighter pilot movie of all time?" Um, yeah. Sign me up!
• Marvel Studios on Disney+! Boy oh boy were there a smorgasbord of tidbits dropped about upcoming Marvel shows on Disney+... and announcements of entirely new shows we hadn't heard of before...
• Marvel Studios Movies! Now that we're a year behind where we are supposed to be thanks to the pandemic, there's future news to be had to tide us over, I guess...
• Disney-Pixar! New movies Raya and the Last Dragon, Encanto, Iwaju, Luca, Lightyear, and Turning Red. New series for Disney+ built around Zootopia, Baymax, Tiana, Moana, and Cars. But the only news I really cared about was Dug Days, which looks fantastic...
• Alien! In one of the bigger surprises, Noah Hawley is creating an Alien series for Hulu?
All we know is that it will be set here on earth, and is supposed to be scary. Good enough for me.
• Kiss! Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair recreated their kiss from Cruel Intentions for the 2020 MTV Movie Awards...
Just makes me want to watch the movie all over again.
• Rook! My dad taught me how to play chess when I was fairly young. It wasn't really a game I was interested in, so I never played it much. In high school I'd play an occasional game for something to do, but I didn't really care enough to study so I was never terribly good. During my gap year I had a new found interest in the game and started playing via the internet. I got fairly good, read a few books on chess theory, and could hold my own by the time I started college. I haven't played a game since. It was for this reason I had decided to skip The Queen's Gambit when it debuted on Netflix. But the reviews were so stellar that I ended up watching it the following week...
It's a really good series. The acting is excellent and the way they communicate the strategy and energy of the game is terrific. But the best part is the production values. They are exceptional. They've recreated the 1960's right down to the last detail, and I ended up watching parts of it again last night just to look at the appliances, automobiles, dishware, music, clothing, and all the other things which made it such an experience to watch. If you've got a Netflix subscription and haven't seen it, I'd recommend giving it a look.
• Interview! I was Leah's guest on her podcast Finding Favorites where I talk about travel (my favorite thing) and you can listen to it right here. I really need to get a better microphone for things like this.
And that's an end to my bullets, Sunday.
Posted on Sunday, December 20th, 2020
Christmas is coming, but there's magic happening tonight... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hallmarked! And... tonight was the last new Hallmark Christmas movie of 2020. I've watched and reviewed them all, as usual, of course. Now I just need to wade through a bunch of the other movies from Lifetime, Netflix, and such, and I'm done for another year. Surprisingly, I think this was the best year in a while. Even so, I'm done. I've been Hallmarked out. Until next year.
• RickVertising! If I was a company, I'd have Rick & Morty do all my advertisements...
Serious bang for your buck.
• Adopt! Speaking of ads... why is it that I can watch all the so-called "emotional" movies and not get emotional, but a commercial like this has me struggling to keep it together?
Just weird, I guess.
• Tater! Please tell me that I'm not the only one who has tried Martha Stewart's baked potatoes. Take LARGE YUKON GOLD potatoes... NOT russets... DO NOT poke holes in them. DO NOT oil or butter. Put a wire rack on the middle rack of your oven (so potatoes don't fall through) then bake at 325º for 90 MINUTES. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN TO CHECK. Just have faith. — After cooking, smash them on a counter, pry apart, then add your favorite topping (I went with salt, pepper, butter, sour cream, and chives). — Remarkable. So creamy it's more like dessert than a potato. And that paper-crispy skin is like candy. Truly the best baked potatoes I've ever had. I won't be making them any other way ever again.
• Jangle! I am not into musicals, or fantasy, or kid films... so I've been putting off Jingle Jangle on Netflix. That being said, the production values and costume design? Holy. Shit. This may very well be the most beautiful film I've ever seen. I will be very disappointed if no rewards are won. Even the smallest details are fully realized... and EVERYWHERE...
Worth watching (on Netflix) just for the visuals.
• Cop Doctors! One of the most demented (and hilarious) shows to ever air on television was Children's Hospital on Adult Swim (you can watch on Hulu, I believe). I just found out today that Netflix had a spin-off series with a lot of the same cast that aired back in January...
I binged the entire season and loved it. Boy I hope we get another season.
• Swap! I look forward to this every year. It never disappoints. I just wish they did even more of it...
Poor Colin. Though I won't feel too sad. He does get to go home to Scarlett Johansson.
And that's a wrap. See you after Christmas!
Posted on Sunday, December 27th, 2020
Christmas may be over, but the greatest gift of all is right here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Snow! This is such a wonderful, beautiful, heartwarming video and I suggest you drop everything and watch it immediately...
• More Snowy! We were supposed to get snow for a white Christmas here and, sure enough, it happened. I can't help but wonder how many of those we have left. The snowfall in recent years pales in comparison to what we got when I was young. And that pales in comparison to when my mom was a kid and people jumped off roofs into the snowfall. Thanks, climate change!
• Wonder? As my post yesterday elaborated, I absolutely hated the new Wonder Woman 1984 movie. It was a huge disappointment after the first one, and I wish I had never seen it. Then I read today that Patty Jenkins is getting another chance to either redeem herself or ruin the franchise further with a third Wonder Woman film. I guess since Diana is all about hope that I will hope for the best. It would certainly take a lot of effort to do worse.
• Two! I swear, if Coming 2 America disappoints me like Wonder Woman 1984, I may have to swear off movie sequels altogether...
It certainly looks like they made all the right moves. Guess we have to wait a few months and see.
• SANTA! And now I'll leave you with one of my favorite Christmas movie moments in any movie ever. Stephen Huszar's reaction to seeing Santa is the absolute best (even though the movie it's from "Mistletoe Magic" was pretty awful)...
Obviously hasn't lost his childhood enthusiasm for the holidays.
• Lexus! Though... I think the mom's reaction in this SNL parody commercial comes in at a close second...
• Robe! And yet... there's Kristen Wiig's reaction in this SNL parody commercial...
Okay. I can't decide on a favorite. But probably Stephen Huszar's reaction to seeing Santa.
And that's my last Bullet Sunday of 2020.
Posted on Wednesday, December 30th, 2020
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 (more likely) shows I loved but have forgotten about. And here we go...
THE (HUNDRED AND) EIGHTEEN BEST...
These are my favorite television shows from this year that I actually saw.
#1-101 Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Let's just say it... this year was shit and it was hard not to feel like shit because of it. Most years I watch a lot of television, but this year I watched at least double as a way to distract from the horrors of 2020. Thankfully, there were some truly remarkable shows to occupy my time in quarantine. And none were more remarkable than Ted Lasso. Based on a couple of clever promos from NBC Sports, it seemed impossible they could turn it into one of the funniest, sweetest, smartest, most heartfelt, uplifting, and most surprisingly deep shows of the year. American football college coach Ted Lasso gets a job coaching an English football club, leaving his son and troubled marriage behind. He was recruited because the owner of the team won it in a divorce and she wants to destroy it because her now-ex-husband loves it. And what better way than to hire a coach who doesn't even know the game? Yes, this is pretty much the plot of Major League, and the trajectory of the series is the same as the movie, at first... but it is so much more. This story would not have worked without Jason Sudeikis and his ability to display the kind of genuine sweetness that his character requires... but to put the success of the show on his shoulders alone would be a grave error. Every single character is sublimely realized and flawlessly portrayed. That alone would make it good television worth watching. But it's how these brilliant characters progress through the ten episodes that make it great. Nothing is what you think. You think Ted Lasso is an ignorant "ugly American" redneck who doesn't know what he's doing. You think the club owner is a one-dimensional villain bent on revenge. You go through the entire cast and think you know who they are. Then they all prove you wrong. And you'll never be happier being wrong. Thank God that Apple renewed the series for a second season... then, remarkably, a third season... because who knows what awful shit is in store for 2021. Seriously the best show of 2020... or any other year.
#102 The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Once again Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni make it perfectly clear that they should just take over running Star Wars because they seem to have a singular understanding of what makes Star Wars work. The first season of The Mandolorian was compelling television and the best thing to come out of the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back. The second season was even better. Strip-mining the very best of the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons, Favreau and Filoni beautifully imagined live-action versions of fan-favorite characters like Ashoka Tano and Bo Katan. And the result was glorious. Thrilling action sequences, an incredible story arc, and a finale that blew my mind, THIS is everything I love about Star Wars, and I cannot wait until all the new series in development hit Disney+. If they are even half as good as The Mandalorian, they will be some of the best shows on television.
#103 Transplant (NBC)
"Oh joy. Yet another medical drama." Is what I thought sarcastically when a friend in Canada forwarded me Transplant to give it a look. They (naturally) assumed it would never make it to the USA because foreign television shows never do. After devouring every last episode, I understood why my friend thought I should see it... the show is fantastic. Then a pandemic shut down production and networks started looking abroad for content to air. NBC (wisely) snatched up Transplant to air in the USA, where I immediately bought a Season Pass through iTunes because of course I wanted to support the series with my hard-earned dollars. And I wanted to own the show so I could watch it again. A Syrian refugee immigrates to Canada with his sister. He's an excellent doctor, but has trouble getting hired, so he works as a cook at his uncle's restaurant. Then one night a truck crashes through the building and everything changes. Now working at a hospital in Toronto, he has to reconcile his personal trauma with the trauma he sees every day. The performance turned in by Hamza Haq and the rest of the cast is exceptional, and while the show is much the same as every other medical drama on earth, their performances elevate it far above your usual fare. It makes you wonder just how many other amazing shows are trapped in foreign countries that we'll never see. It's so ridiculous that licensing and other stupid crap get in the way of being able to find out. Fortunately, from time to time one manages to get through.
#104 What We Do In The Shadows (FX)
You hear the expression "There is no bottom" a lot. For this show, there simply is no top. It was amazing in its first season. It's just as amazing in its second season. And I never expected to be saying that since TV shows based on movies I love are rarely any good. But What We Do In The Shadows is a happy exception, and I'm thrilled to keep watching the hilarious saga of incompetent vampires and their much smarter familiar for as long as we're lucky enough to keep getting them. BAT!
#105 The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
Based on a super-hero comic book series I enjoy, the first season of The Umbrella Academy was a pretty darn good show even though it strayed quite a bit from the source material. The second season went next-level and is a fantastic expansion to the story. Yeah, Vanya's story arc was boring as hell, but you can't have everything. Thrown back in time after failing to stop Vanya from destroying the world, our favorite family of heroes land in different years and are forced to adapt to the times in order to survive. Then it's up to Number Five (again) to try to save the world (again). And it's a wild ride with more of all the things that makes this such a great show, but was actually better than the first season. I cannot wait to see what we get from the third, and the final shot of the series sets up some seriously cool ideas.
#106 Long Way Up (Apple TV+)
I was completely enthralled by the Ewan MacGregor & Charley Boorman series Long Way Round and Long Way Down which chronicles their motorcycle journeys over a very long way indeed. Then this year we got the gift of Long Way Up which has them going from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina to Los Angeles, California, which would have been cool enough... but they did it with electric motorcycles and electric vehicles for the support and camera crew. This added a whole new wrinkle to the series, as a lot of time was spent worrying over running out of battery juice and finding a new place to charge up. But what makes the show so remarkable to me is just how amazing a guy Ewan MacGregor is. He has zero ego. He is happy to meet fans. Happy to abide by whatever he is asked to do no matter how inconvenient it is... all without playing the "movie star card." Never complains about conditions or hardships. Never criticizes people who live differently from him. Is always game to sleep where he can and eat whatever he's offered. And is genuinely happy to be experiencing new cultures and new people, and seeing new places. Traveling through his and Charley's eyes is a treat unlike any other, and I would be happy to get another Long Way series if they have it in them to do one.
#107 Schitt's Creek (Netflix)
And... one of the best shows on television is over. The tale of a very wealthy family losing everything and having to move to a quirky town with even quirkier people has taken a bow and walked off the stage. This last season was entertaining, as expected, and had plenty of heartwarming moments which made me more than a little upset that this is the end of it all. If there's a criticism, it would be that everything felt in a rush as they raced to the finish line, and it was a bit disjointed trying to put it all together. Most of the characters got a satisfying end of their story arc. Some of them (sorry, Ted) did not. For me, the back-end of Season 3 and the entirety of Season 4 was the absolute peak of Schitt's Creek's run, and I'm kinda glad that they decided to end it before it slid into a parody of itself. — But not really.
#108 Upload (Amazon)
This series about a digital afterlife was primed to be my favorite show of the year. It had some quirks at the beginning, but never so damning as the ruin the show. But then all the distractions started piling up and became impossible to ignore. The whole drama with Nathan's (living) ex-girlfriend. The drama with Nora's father. The drama with Nathan's extended family. And while I still enjoyed Upload very much, it just kept slipping further and further down my list. Then we got to the last episode with that freak ending and I was seriously questioning if I even wanted a second season. If only they could have spent more time with crazy misadventures that Nathan had with Luke and Dylan... and explored the class dynamics of the digital afterlife... this could have been a five-star series. I am hopeful that Season 2 jettisons all of the things that were distracting and not working and gives us more episodes like The Grey Market which are far, far more interesting. Nobody cares about Nathan's niece or Nora's co-workers. They just don't. Interact with the outside (living) world, yes. That's a big part of the show. Just don't let the outside world take away from what we're tuning in to see.
#109 The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
I saw an ad for this series and took a big ol' pass because it just looked like a repeat of Kaley Cuocco's character Penny (from The Big Bang Theory) except she's a flight attendant that's trying to play Murder She Wrote or something. But then the acclaim started piling up, and I was compelled to take a look. Turns out The Flight Attendant is smart, exciting, funny, well-crafted television (sorry, not television... it's HBO) that put Cuocco on a completely different trajectory than what I was expecting. Those eight episodes blew by so quickly that I was absolutely left wanting more, but settled for rewatching all eight episodes in an attempt to spot all the things I missed the first time around. And it was quite a bit more than I thought it was. This series is an adaptation of a book, and is now out of material, which is a bit worrisome. Will they be able to come up with something as interesting as the first season? I'll absolutely be tuning in to find out.
#110 After Life (Netflix)
Ricky Gervais is an acquired taste to be sure. I happen to really enjoy his work and was going to tune into Afterlife regardless of where it went. The story of a guy being a bastard after his wife dies didn't sound particularly interesting but, with Ricky, who knows? I ended up being shocked at just how beautiful a show it is. That first season was a revelation, and spoke to me more than I would ever admit. This second season didn't seem like it had anywhere significant to go... then proved me wrong in a big way. It seems too good to be true that Gervais can be this talented and this smart and want to share it with us, but here it is. Easily eclipsing everything else he's done, and Netflix has renewed it for a third season, so here's hoping.
#111 Medical Police (Netflix)
When Adult Swim debuted Children's Hospital it was a demented but hilarious black comedy that ended way too soon (and, yes, I know it got seven seasons). Four years later we get this equally hilarious spin-off with a big chunk of the original cast returning. It debuted in January, but I somehow missed it all year until accidentally finding it in December. I have no idea how this did for Netflix, but I am hoping against hope that it did well enough that we'll get more. The story of police doctors... or doctor cops... or whatever they decide to call themselves... is too genius to end now.
#112 Lucifer (Netflix)
The first three seasons of Lucifer were unexpectedly amazing, and watching Tom Ellis chew through every episode with an appetite that seemed impossible to sustain was an absolute joy. Then the show was canceled on a cliffhanger, so they aired a couple episodes meant for something else, which made the cancelation worse because things got so confusing. But then Netflix stepped in with a fourth season (which was good but not great) in order to tie things up. And they did. But the show did so well for Netflix that they decided to give it a fifth season. This felt like a horrific decision given how everything was already concluded, and I was scratching my head wondering what they would do that didn't cheapen what had come before. Turns out it's a lot. After basically undoing the ending of the show without truly undoing it, they found a way to make things interesting again, and I was as invested as I had ever been. Then COVID happened and they had to air only half the season, pushing the other half into 2021. And now we're getting a sixth (and final?) half-season. Or something. A part of me wishes they would just make up their damn minds and stop jerking me around like this. But there's also a part of me that wants them to keep it going since they are churning out some fantastic television (confusing as it has all been).
#113 Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
I am an "Original Series" guy when it comes to Star Trek. I liked Kirk and Spock and most of their movies. I didn't like Next Generation, I didn't like Deep Space Nine, I didn't like Enterprise, and I REALLY didn't like Voyager. Then they unleashed Discovery and I was bananas over the first season... then increasingly let down on seasons 2 and 3. Once Paramount said that they were going to sequelize Next Generation I decided I was out. But then... they started slowly releasing information about where they were going with the show and I was intrigued. Then I tuned in and was happy to see that they found a way to make Next Generation relevant in a way the original never was to me. Sure they didn't stick the landing (WTF?!?), but with Discovery shitting the bed, I was happy to have a Star Trek series I was (mostly) enjoying, and that was enough.
#114 Lovecraft Country (HBO)
When I watched the first two episodes, I thought for sure this would end up being a top-five series for me. It was just SO good at combining truly entertaining horror with an even more horrifying look at racism during 1950's segregation. I was a huge fan from the very start. But then... it started changing. The story starts piling on way too much distracting stuff. The thrills started getting less thrilling. The situations started getting over-the-top outlandish. There were boring stretches that didn't seem to move things forward. And I was quickly falling out of love with it. Then things got good again in episodes 8 and 9 and I was certain they would stick the landing in a big way. But it was a swing-and-a-miss for me. Good television, not great television, and I was disappointed all over again. With a little more thought and a little more consistency, this was the show to beat. In the end it was mostly just a show with an underwhelming end. And yet... those series highs were about as good as it gets.
#115 High Fidelity (Hulu)
I came onboard to this show very late. I was binging it just as the second-to-last-episode was airing, and loved absolutely everything about it. Zoë Kravitz gave us one of the best, most relatable characters to ever hit television, and I was a big fan. It didn't trample over the 2000 film. It didn't desecrate the original Nick Hornby novel. It forged its own stylish path making it something rare and beautiful, and I was anxiously awaiting a second season to see where they would go with it. Then Hulu canceled the show and it didn't matter any more. Still, this was an entertaining touchstone with fantastic characters and fun stories that makes me more than a little sad about its passing. But those ten episodes still exist so I suppose that I'm happy to have had them rather than nothing at all.
#116 The Good Lord Bird (Showtime)
This is one of those shows where I ended up scratching my head trying to figure out how they made it work when it really shouldn't have. It's decidedly dark... but has moments of light that pull it up. It's shockingly violent... but has an overriding tenderness about it. It's funny... but it deals with pre-Civil-War slavery in a way that's no joke. It's strange... but the characters are so beautifully defined that they transcend it to become all too real. It has all the hallmarks of falling into the "white savior" trap... but escapes it rather quickly. And then there's Ethan Hawke's performance, which was exceptional to the very last. And though it is 100% pre-Civil War in its trappings, what makes the show so brilliant is how it has excruciating relevance to the time we're living in right now (and, as if that weren't amazing enough, it's mostly a true story). The line-up of guest stars... from Daveed Diggs to Orlando Jones... insures that there's always acting excellence when all else fails. And while a part of me accepts that there's very likely no chance of a second season given that the book it's based on has been completely adapted and its history has been played out, a part of me wouldn't mind seeing where some of these characters go after the final episode has aired.
#117 Teenage Bounty Hunters (Netflix)
No, I really don't understand how a show about two teen girls who end up being accidental bounty hunters got on my list. No, I honestly don't know how a series with Dwayne Wayne as one of its stars ended up being so good. No, I have no clue how they managed to make something so funny when the topics it deals with kinda... aren't. Yet here we are. One of my favorite shows from 2020. And, no, I cannot comprehend how Netflix could cancel something so brilliant.
#118 Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet (Apple+)
This show was doomed to failure... until it wasn't, thanks to some truly great writing and note-perfect performances. At its core, this series runs roughshot over the entire billion-dollar gaming development industry with a wit, charm, and humor that just didn't seem possible... until it was. But it's actually about relationships between very different people, which is what makes everything work so well. AND THEN they managed to pull one of the best possible quarantine specials out of their ass which made the wait for a second season even more difficult.
MUST SEE TELEVISION SPECIALS AND DOCUMENTARIES...
AWESOMELY ANIMATED SERIES...
TELEVISION HONORABLE MENTION...
SHITTING THE BED...
And, on that note, once again here's to all the crap shows that will end up replacing good shows in the new year.