I never get mad at my cats.
It doesn't matter what they do that's "bad," I can never bring myself to get upset at a cat for being a cat. My cats make that pretty easy. They're well-behaved, for the most part, and don't get into to much trouble. Now that they're grown, they never scratch at the furniture or pee on stuff or anything like that (so far, anyway)...
On occasion there are problems. One of them will get to a place they're not supposed to be and break something, for example. But... how can that be their fault? More likely my fault for not anticipating the problem and preventing it. If I'm mad at anybody, it should be me.
It occurred to me a while back that if I can't get mad at my cats, shouldn't I be able to translate that passivity to people?
The Trump presidency has caused a lot of anger in me this past year. His dangerous ignorance, utter stupidity, and inhuman ability to not give a crap about people he is supposed to be representing as president... it grates on me like nothing else ever has. I find myself consumed with rage on a near-daily basis because every day it's just more of the same horrendous shit raining down on the world from The White House. Or, more likely, whatever golf course President Trump is occupying this week.
As somebody who honestly believes that anger is more destructive on the person who has it rather than those it's directed at, I know this it not healthy. Not for me. Not for the people I care about. Not for my cats.
And so, after completely unplugging from the world for two weeks in Antarctica and becoming accustomed to not being angry every waking moment, I made myself a promise to try and be more pragmatic, caring, and less angry in the new year. To attempt to let my anger go and focus on positive things so that I can help be a solution instead of being part of the static that divides us.
And then... just as I was making my mind up, it happens. A tweet President Trump unleashed finds its way into my news cycle...
And see... here is why my "letting go" of my anger is so tough. When it comes to my new commitment to setting aside hatred, I've already failed the test. Because stupid-ass shit like this just reinforces how utterly brain-dead and dangerous this fucking asshole actually is for this country and the world, and I can't help but be angry about that.
He has no clue... none... what climate change entails, nor does he care. And yet he speaks as if he's an authority on the matter. This is the same idiot who thought that hairspray quality today isn't as good as it used to be because ozone-depleting CFCs have been banned from aerosols... the same CFCs that he said could never affect the ozone layer because his apartment is "all sealed."
And yet... here we are. And here I am. Right back to where I was in 2017.
There's more stupid-ass tweets to come, I'm sure. There always are. And that's not even the start of it. I'm sure he'll find a way to keep assaulting all the Americans he loathes in short order... the non-Christian Americans, the unhealthy Americans, the Mexican Americans, the gay Americans, the poor Americans... whatever... the list is never-ending. And that doesn't even touch crap like his assault on net-neutrality, something that I am beyond passionate about.
And so... what?
What to do with the torrents of overwhelming Trump-initiated anger that very nearly destroyed me in 2017?
I honestly don't know. I wish I could argue against his fucked-up agenda without getting so enraged about it, but that's something I'm apparently incapable of doing. President Trump is an affront to everything I care about.
And yet I have to try.
I have to do better in 2018.
I could never ignore what's going on in the world in order to make myself be happier. Ignorance just allows ignorance to propagate. But the same could be said for hate.
And so... a plan.
Easier said than done to be sure. But, as I said, I'm going to try. Finding more positive inspirations in my life that encourage me to make the jump will probably help...
And here we go...
I've been telling y'all that I'm a stable genius for years.
If I become president on my first try, do you think people will start believing me?
Since it's never too early for a politician to start sucking lobbyist dick for campaign money, let's get this party started, shall we?
While donations to my "campaign" are not tax deductible now, they are a promise that, if elected, I will let you become a giant corporation and not have to pay taxes.
And don't worry what that will do to our economy, I'm totes going to make Mexico pay for it.
If virulently anti-gay pastors and Republicans have taught us anything about their disturbingly homophobic behavior... it's that it's usually driven by they themselves being gay. This asshole's reaction towards a cursory touch by a man speaks volumes. It's so over-the-top absurd that you'd think he was grabbed by the crotch...
So synchronize your watches, folks... It's only a matter of time before Representative Daryl Metcalfe is caught with an underage gay prostitute in a public bathroom.
They always are...
As a wise man once said before the election...
"Donald Trump is a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted piece of shit. And electing Trump is the equivalent of hanging a giant banner outside the country advertising the fact that we're a nation of racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted pieces of shit. And that doesn't even address the embarrassment factor of having this ridiculous buffoon representing Americans on the global stage. You think we were the laughing stock of the planet during the Bush years? Try 1400+ days of Toxic Cheeto Jesus."
— David Simmer II, Blogography: No… God, No… Please Save Us…
The old me might have said something like that (or never said anything like that... these days apparently you can deny what you said even if others have heard you say it or the statement is recorded). But my New Year's resolution was to start being less ranty and more constructive so let's work from there, shall we?
This is exactly who Donald Trump is and has always been. Even FOX "News" initially confirmed that President Trump uttered these heinous words (even though the network is backtracking on their confirmation now, of course). Senator Dick Durbin was there and has said that he heard the president say it. Senator Lindsey Graham is reported to have confirmed this was what the president said (and hasn't contradicted any reports stating so).
And so... if I'm not going to rant over what a racist piece of shit* we elected to run this country or how diplomatically stupid you have to be to lob such insults at other countries when you're representing this country... what else is there to say?
Something positive and constructive? On this?
Well... Zimbabwe may not have a Trump Tower, but it's actually a beautiful country and has some amazing people...
There's many a day lately I'd like to escape the "shithole" of Trump's America and return to Africa, that's for sure.
*Racist as in... three guesses as to what the predominant color of the people are in Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries... vs. the predominant color of the people in Norway.
And here we are again... Teen Vogue unleashing a healthy dose of reality in a reality-starved world.
Yes, you read that right. Teen Vogue!
"This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we would do his memory justice by honoring all of his legacy. Not just the parts that make white Americans comfortable." — Martin Luther King Jr. Was More Radical Than We Remember
Wishing you an uncomfortable holiday.
I thought it would be fun for me and the cats to try the Tide Pod Challenge this weekend. Does anybody know which flavor tastes best? There's five different ones.
At first I was going to try Coral Blast Tide Pods because I love the ocean... but then I worried it might have fish in it and not be vegetarian-safe. The Downey April Fresh Tide Pods sound delicious, but this is January, and I don't know if I want to eat something from nine months ago... I prefer fresh-fresh. The Febreze Tide Pods might be the way to go if it will make Jake's poops smell better, but the Oxi Clean Tide Pods would get our intestines all shiny clean. I dunno. Maybe I should just go with the original flavor?
The Tide Pods aisle at Lowes is confusing.
So hard to choose. Couldn't they just make cheese-flavored so I'd know which to buy?
Guess we'll never know.
Oh... and if you're thinking of joining in on the Tide Pods Challenge, here's some things your should know.
For the life of me, I have no comprehension in any measure for people who give a crap about how other people live their lives when it has absolutely no bearing on them or anybody else.
Today there was a story in The New York Times about two Army captains who are Apache helicopter pilots that just got married at West Point (which I can't link to because it's behind a pay-wall...
Right now most people are probably assuming that one of the pilots is a man and the other pilot is a woman.
Not so much, no.
It's two guys who fell for each other during the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" era circa 2009 and couldn't even go on a date until it was repealed in 2011 else they'd be risking their entire careers...
And, thanks to times being slightly more enlightened than past years (albeit temporarily, apparently), they have indeed just been married at West Point in full ceremony along with the only people who matter at a time like this... their friends, family, and brothers in arms...
Now, you would think that everybody would be all "Congratulations! Best of luck! Thank you both for your service!"
Not so much, no.
I mean, a lot of people are saying that... but, of course, there's a chunk of people who have nothing but venom to offer two men who pay taxes, risk their lives serving their country, and just want their slice of American happiness that everybody here is supposed to be guaranteed by our fucking Declaration of Independence. And yet somehow them getting married is destroying society... the military... this country... and the entire earth?
I'm not much of a romantic, but the Arch of Sabers wedding tradition at West Point is one that gets me every time. I saw it in a movie or television show once, and have been transfixed by it ever since. Not sure if the saber-smack on the rump for the bride is still a thing... or if that's going by the wayside now... but it's all so classy AF (the protocol is online at West Point's official website).
And so... Congratulations! Best of luck! Thank you both for your service!
This past week a guy from Berkeley died while snorkeling off the Southern coast of Maui. The ninth such tragedy in two weeks. It happened off Maluaka Beach, which is in front of the (former) Maui Prince Hotel, which became the (former) Makena Beach Hotel, and is now condos or something. Back when I was traveling to Hawaii for work, I stayed at the Maui Prince many times. I've snorkeled off Maluaka Beach many, many times. In fact, it was off Maluaka Beach where I learned to SCUBA dive.
It's one of my favorite beaches on earth...
Needless to say, hearing about people dying someplace you've been to many times gets you thinking.
The Boston Marathon bombing was on a street I've walked down many times.
9/11 happened in a building I've been up many times.
The Vegas shooting was in an area I've been through many times.
The list goes on and on. Floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, terrorism... it's all happening somewhere, and sometimes it happens in places you know. Having to reconcile happy memories with tragic events is a struggle.
As is life, I suppose.
I don't watch the Super Bowl. That's probably because I don't give a crap about football. Most years I still have the game on while I work because I want to see the commercials, but this year I figured I'd just watch them all on YouTube after the game. That way I don't have to add to the NFL viewer numbers since I feel that any sport which allows owners to shit all over The United States of America with it's mandated faux-patriotism can go fuck themselves. Colin Kaepernick did not disrespect this country, its people, or our troops when he respectfully took a knee in protest during the National Anthem... and yet he was treated as if he did, and is now paying the price for what became of it. So much for freedom.
Anyway... the one commercial I was wanting to see more than any other was the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. A movie I am very, very much looking forward to come May...
Pretty great, right?
Everybody and their dog will be rushing to analyze every frame of the trailer, so I'm going to take a pass on that. Instead I'm just going to run through the eighteen scenes found therein and offer up my commentary.
And this is how you do it... lead off with the true promise of this movie: all the various Marvel Studios franchises are coming together in interesting ways. Here Technology, science, and magic are converging in a single shot.
The romance between The Scarlet Witch and The Vision is a major staple of the Marvel comic book universe. I'm very, very happy that they've been advancing this in the cinematic universe as well. Though I'm not sure what's going on here. Vision is projecting a human form, which is great... but what's the deal with the stone? Weirdest foreplay ever?
Though Thanos had been hinted at in the first Avengers film, he really didn't become a "thing" until Guardians of the Galaxy. There it was revealed he was as the father of both Gamora and Nebula. This firmly cemented Guardians as a part of the narrative build-up for this film, even though it took place in a galaxy far, far away.
"It's all been leading to this." Yes. Yes it most definitely has. Interesting to note that Bruce Banner somehow made it back to earth ahead of Thor, which is a little surprising considering they were last seen together in space. As an aside... what's with Tony Stark having an Arc Reactor in his chest again? that was removed in Iron Man 3.
One can only guess that the post-credits scene in Thor: Ragnarok has Thanos destroying the space ark with all the Asgardians on it, and only Thor survived to be picked up by The Guardians. That would suck, considering the destruction of Asgard itself has already punched Thor in the gut. But even more so because that means Korg probably perished with them. It's strongly hinted that time travel is going to play a part in the movie, so maybe dead isn't dead, just like the comic books. If so... dare we hope for a Quicksilver appearance?
If there's anybody who should be worried about Thanos showing up, it's Loki, who failed to secure The Tesseract for him way back in the first Avengers film. Maybe the fact that he managed to swipe it from Asgard before it went boom will be enough for him to be spared being killed?
Spider-Man, once again biting off more than he can chew. No telling how he managed to get up to the big dimensional portal device(?) that appeared above NYC, but it's weird to think that he would think there's anything he could do about it. But, that's what makes him a hero... he has to try. And, thanks to his Spider-Sense, he knows it's a bad, bad thing.
Black Widow was originally Team Iron Man in Civil War, but switched to Team Cap at the end. The Vision was always Team Iron Man, which means this is undoubtedly a scene from later in the movie when everybody has become friends again?
For anybody wondering if Thor losing an eye at the end of Ragnarok would be carried over to this film, here's your answer.
Fanboys are up in arms over Cap's new "shield" being this thing. I can't help but agree it's a shitty move. One of the coolest thing about his shield (other than being indestructible, of course) is that he can toss it like a Frisbee thanks to its saucer-like aerodynamics. Hopefully he gets the shield back somewhere along the line.
And so Tony Stark now has armor that chika-chika-chikas into place like Black Panther? More practical, of course, but not nearly as much fun. Until now, it's been a mechanical process that very much comes down to him donning a suit of armor to do battle. This is a lazy cop-out when it comes to storytelling.
Is it sad that I want Teen Groot to be blown to pieces so we can start over with Baby Groot again? Oh how I loved Baby Groot!
Nebula wants Thanos dead more than anybody else in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. She also probably knows Thanos better than anybody else in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. I'm really hoping that she gets thrust into the spotlight in this film as she deserves to. Keeping her in the background can't possibly service the story they are telling. But, comparatively speaking, she's small potatoes amongst the cast, so who knows.
Not a fan of Black Widow as a blonde. Yes, they've changed her hair in every movie she's appeared in. Yes, she's a spy and it's feasible she was undercover as a blonde just as events of the movie open. But dammit, Black Widow is a red-head! And, while we're here, I'd just like to say that the rumors of Black Widow finally getting her own movie after being a guest in like... every other movie... had better be happening.
Well, it's Bucky. Awakened from his deep-freeze and fighting for Wakanda. Best of luck there, Buck.
And here's the money shot for me. Dr. Strange, Wong, and Iron Man teaming up in battle. THIS is what Avengers: Infinity War is truly about... having all the various Marvel Cinematic Universe pieces coming together in cool ways. I am all fangirling out at this point.
Remember... before you get all sucked into the Infinity War hype... Black Panther is coming out in a mere eleven days. WAKANDA FOREVER! — And, can I just say one more time how utterly silly and stupid Cap's "arm shields" look? No? Okay.
Thanos! Why U mad, bro? Black Panther scratch your face? Seriously, I'm asking... I don't recall seeing those scratches before.
Annnnnnd... scene. See you in May, Avenger!
As I've mentioned more than a few times, I'm a huge, huge, massively huge fan of Kehinde Wiley's work. When he had his first solo exhibition in Columbus, Ohio... I flew there to see it and was not disappointed. I also attended his 2013 show at The Jewish Museum in San Francisco, which was equally amazing.
So imagine my surprise when President Obama's presidential portrait was unveiled and it was painted by... Kehinde Wiley!
It's just as glorious as I knew it would be before I even laid eyes on it...
This tiny photo will not do the actual painting justice. Wiley's works are vivid, powerful, and larger than life in a way that simply cannot be captured unless you are viewing it in person.
I am also familiar with Michelle Obama's portrait artist, Amy Sherald, and find her work to be beautiful as well. And while I do think the First Lady's painting is perfectly lovely, I wish it had a bit better resemblance to her...
Needless to say, the fact that these portraits... and their subjects... are a departure from what has come before means that the Hate Brigade is out in full force.
And I get it. If you don't like the paintings, fine. If you think that the paintings stray too far from what you feel is acceptable for presidential portraits, fine. That's your opinion and you're welcome to it.
But opinions on the work was not where most of the hate was leveled.
FOX "News" personality and professional piece of shit, Sean Hannity, posted some bizarre crap to Twitter about President Obama's portrait... which was subsequently deleted and blamed on somebody else (of course). And, speaking of racist pieces of shit, a South Carolina resident who is on a city's transportation committee took the opportunity to call our former president a Muslim and the N-word.
And of course we also had to endure the whole "Reverse Racism" myth because Kehinde Wiley reimagines classical-style subjects and paintings with the Euro-centric subjects swapped out with Black men and women. This included a reimagining of the biblical tale of Judith beheading Holofernes which, despite Wiley having spoken about it on more than one occasion, was used to call President Obama a "racist" because of his portrait artist choice.
I'm seriously running out of eyerolls at this point.
Anyway, if viewing Kehinde Wiley's stunning works compells you to learn more about him, I highly... highly... recommend watching the PBS documentary Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace. It's a fantastic look into his art, his process, and his world, and you can see a preview of it here...
The full documentary will probably be playing on your local PBS channel sometime soon because of this added exposure, but you can also rent it for $4 or purchase it for $10 on iTunes.
And now... time for me to revisit my exhibition guide from his Columbus art show.
My day started with the mother of all paper cuts and went downhill from there.
Yet another school shooting, this time with 17 dead in Florida. That this will do nothing to deter budget cuts for mental health programs is a given... but, hey, this is our normal now.
Happy fucking Valentine's Day...
You can view previous years' Valentine cards here.
There was a bright spot, however.
A while back I saw that Shoshannah Stern's webisode series Fridays had been picked up as an actual television series by Sundance Now. Stern has appeared in shows like Weeds, Jericho, and Supernatural... but her new show, This Close, which was co-created with Joshua Feldman, is something entirely different...
The first two episodes were released today, and I was happy to see that the show everything I had hoped it would be... touching, funny, smart, and entertaining. So many brilliant small moments that add up to something greater. In many ways, it's a shame that This Close is not appearing on a major network, as this kind of representation needs to be seen. But I suppose that's the point. A show like this isn't going to be picked up by a major network.
Maybe one day.
Anyway... if you'd like to check out the series, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial of Sundance Now at their website. You can watch with apps they have for various devices, including Apple TV. If it were rated, I'm guessing it would probably be a light "R" for language and sexual situations.
Ignore me if you will, but this is a subject that means something to me.
Credit card debt is a pariah that will consume you. And now that interest rates are going to increase past the already absurd rates that credit card companies charge (thank you Federal Reserve!), it's more important than ever to get yourself out of credit card debt if you have any. Large balances are designed to keep you paying high interest charges forever, without ever fully paying off your debt. It's a trap... and it's really tough to get out of once you're caught in it.
I know this, because I've been there.
During my two years in college, I accumulated huge debt. Huge.
I wasn't working very much because of school and travel (and partying), but was spending as if I were a CEO. First it was one credit card. Then it was another. Then it was another. It took *decades* for me to climb out of it. Years of barely being able to make payments. Years of getting nowhere in paying off my balances. Once I realized the thousands of dollars being blown every year on interest, I started focusing on paying off my cards. It was hard. Very hard. I'd buy nothing but the bare minimums I needed to survive. I wore clothes until they fell apart. I'd do any activity on a shoestring budget and limit expenditures any way I could. It took years of this, but eventually I clawed my way out.
And I have made it my mission to pay off my balance every month ever since. Sometimes there are emergencies. Sometimes I haven't saved enough for vacation and it takes a couple months. But I work very hard to not spend money I don't have so I can pay off my balance every time.
There are a lot of ways to get help if you need it. Apps that help you set payment goals. Books on financial planning. Websites with great advice on how to get out of credit card debt. And, if you are really in deep, financial advisors that can come up with a plan and negotiate with banks to get interest lowered... or help you find a loan. But however you mount your attack on credit card debt, it's hugely important that you start immediately. Our own government is working with banks to enslave you with debt, and it's only going to get worse. Much worse. The sacrifices needed to escape their clutches are hard ones to make, but ultimately worth it.
I honestly don't know what the future holds with our Federal Reserve manipulating things the way they have been. They don't even bother hiding it any more. This country is now designed exclusively for the wealthiest among us. That may not be you, but finding freedom amongst the ruins is a goal worth having.
Good luck to you.
Good luck to all of us.
We need it now more than ever.
There is no arguing this.
This is where we are.
If the Austin bomber was a Muslim, he would be portrayed as a representative of all Muslims. But he's a Christian Conservative, so that logic does not apply. No white Christian Conservatives will be persecuted because of what happened in Austin. And yet look at the persecution Muslims continue to endure over the actions of individuals professing to be of that faith.
I am sickened to my core that our society, built on a foundation of liberty and freedom, continues to enslave us by defining narratives that protect white Conservative Christians at all costs.
And those costs are always paid by persons of color and other faiths.
Always always always always.
Never let it be said that nobody saw this shit-show coming.
Most people with any brains in their head saw it coming from a mile away.
Well, maybe not a mile... but however far away 1995 was.
I've never been a "Superman guy."
Not that I didn't like the character... on the contrary, I own hundreds and hundreds of Superman comic books. My problem is that Superman, as a character, never made much sense to me. And I never really knew why. I always assumed that it was because I was more of a "Batman guy," having put more stock into the idea that a rich guy wanting to fight crime to avenge his parents made more sense than an alien with god-like powers wanting to be a newspaper reporter.
Then I saw Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill...
And there it was...
"Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."
It wasn't that Superman wanted to be a newspaper reporter... it was that Superman wanted to be human at all. The excuse has always been that he slums with humans as a way to not lose touch with the humanity he found while being raised by the Kents. That's all well and good... but it still doesn't make much sense. He's an adult man. If he's still worried about losing his humanity by now, he might as well give up. "Fake it until you make it" may be a valid course of action for a job... but for being human?
And considering he can toss planets around with his bare hands, how human could he ever really be? I don't get it.
But apparently a lot of people do, because Superman is in a comic book that just hit 1000 issues...
The best Superman stories are always those which come up with a way of finding something new while maintaining the continuity which came before. The best of the best being Alan Moore's For the Man Who Has Everything and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman. There have been others I've enjoyed, but they usually involve some kind of smart take on why Superman is the way he is... not stories that come up with somebody bigger and stronger to pound on Superman for a few issues.
And don't get me started on the current cinematic take on Superman with Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League, which just plain suck because they are exactly what make a bad Superman story.
But anyway... back to Action Comics #1000...
I haven't been following the character since George Pérez jumped ship after the New 52 reboot years ago. I am aware that there was yet another reboot called "Rebirth" last year, but I haven't read any of it. So you can imagine my surprise when I find that Superman is married to Lois Lane and has a son named Jon that is Superboy. Not that this really affects what's happening in Action Comics #1000, but it's still something that permeates the issue.
The bulk of the issue is a love-letter to Superman by a chunk of very talented writers and artists and it's mostly wonderful. Many of the things you would hope to find in a landmark issue like this are there. And then there's the money-story... Brian Michael Bendis starting his run on the character with artwork by Jim Lee!
And what we get is... meh.
Because here we go again, somebody bigger and stronger to pound on Superman for a few issues. There's a twist, of course, but its one that's of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. In general, I like the stuff that Bendis does, but I'll not be tuning in for this. I'm just not a big enough Superman fan to get involved... especially when DC is probably going to reboot the Rebirth reboot to the New 52 reboot to the Flashpoint reboot to the Infinite Crisis reboot to the Zero Hour reboot to the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot.
Maybe I'll have a change of heart in the reboot after that. You never know.
An abundance of sunshine is headed your way... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Gnats! I don't live in the South. But this video made me LOL because most every year gnats show up for three or four days here and it's exactly this...
Another thing that came my way that got me to thinking is this story link, which is exactly the kind of thing you want to be thinking about since mid-term elections are seven months away.
• Four-Twenty Day! This is seriously funnier than most stand up specials I've seen...
• WHCD! This year they had another Daily Show corespondent host the White House Correspondence Dinner, Michelle Wolf. In my humble opinion, it was a less than stellar performance. Not because the things she said weren't truthful or relevant... I think she hit the right notes there... but because her humor wasn't landing. Skewering people is fine, that's what the dinner is for. But you have to make it sound more lighthearted than just being mean. I think back to Hasan Minhaj's brilliant commentary last year where he totally killed it without going vile, and feel that's a better take on how to do it...
Of course, everybody pales when compared to the absolute master of the White House Correpondence Dinner... President Obama...
Too good to be true in so many ways.
• Good Medicine! Then again, no fancy dinner can compare to a solid dose of truth delivered in desperate times...
This is where we are. The current administration is doing nothing to fix anything.
• Faux Friends! As for the actually president of these United States of America? Still unhinged, completely detached from reality, and bat-shit insane...
I have no idea... none... how anybody supports this deranged shit show.
• New Twins! It's no secret that one of my favorite bands of all time is the Thompson Twins. Which is why it's no surprise that I was thrilled when the group's front-man, Tom Bailey, started touring again. And now? New music!
If you want to support his efforts (which will hopefully be more like a new Thompson's Twins album than anything radically different), you can head over to his page on Pledge Music.
Until next week, just keep swimming...
Put on your Sunday's best... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mo Carbs! Hey everybody... IT'S CARB AWARENESS DAY! I'm not supposed to eat many carbs anymore, but you can bet I'll be celebrating! Bread, pasta, and sugar for everyone!
• Twins Redux! And here it is... the first single from Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey's forthcoming album: Feels Like Love to Me...
Needless to say, it's a huge relief that this has a true Thompson Twins vibe to it... which is exactly what I want in a new album from Tom Bailey. It feels a bit more mature than Into The Gap, but doesn't sound as different as Big Trash or Close to the Bone did at the time... which is to say that it fits nicely between the end of the Thompson Twins and the beginning of Babel. At least from this one song it does.
• I Smell Bullshit! Fraganzia... because Febreze and every other product name worth a shit has been taken...
=sigh= Product marketing is officially running out of ideas.
• NEWS: Oklahoma governor signs law allowing adoption agencies to ban same-sex couples.
Holy shit... it's not a day ending in "Y" unless Mary Fallin is stirring up more bigoted shit. Such a fucking asshole. KIDS NEED LOVING HOMES. It has been shown over and over and over and over that same-sex parents DO AS WELL OR BETTER at churning out happy, healthy, well-adjusted children as opposite-sex parents. And in 2018 kids don't care... THEY SHOULDN'T CARE... because the ONLY things that matter is that they have a home to call their own. That they are fed and provided for. That they are loved and cherished. Who gives a fuck if that comes from two dads or two moms? Apparently Mary Fallin does, which means she is in no danger of spoiling her track record at being one of the shittiest human beings on the planet. Congrats, Mary, you repugnant pile of garbage. Are you going to take in all the kids being denied homes by your bigotry? =crickets=
• NEWS: GOP House candidate live streams herself challenging transgender woman for using women's restroom.
• Adventure Redux! Last Bullet Sunday I had mentioned the very first graphical adventure video game... Adventure! As a formative part of my childhood, it's a game that fascinates me in a hundred different directions. Mostly because it shouldn't have even been possible given the technological limitations of the time. In a stroke of randomness, I ran across an interview with Adventure creator Warren Robinett earlier this week! It's pretty great...
Needless to say, I am thrilled at the prospect of reading The Annotated Adventure book mentioned in the talk, but the last mention of it was in 2016, so I'm guessing it's been put on indefinite hold or outright cancelled by now.
And on that note... DeeTwo out.
I'm just going to come out and say it... health care in the United States of America is a festering pile of shit that is impossible to navigate and increasingly impossible to pay for. I'm sure this will come to a surprise to absolutely nobody, because we've all needed medical attention at some point in our lives... if not for us, for a loved one.... and then had to deal with the fallout.
Health care is a monolithic, byzantine maze of bullshit and corruption that's enough to make even the smartest person insane.
Take where I'm at, for example.
My health insurance deductible is huge. Thousands of dollars. I never get out of my annual deductible because I'm relatively healthy and, apparently, lucky. What this means is that I have to pay for absolutely everything medical-related out-of-pocket. But apparently I do get some kind of discount that's been negotiated between my insurance and my local clinic. What is this discount? Who the fuck knows. I've been trying to find out the cost of making a consultation appointment FOR TWO DAYS and have gotten nowhere.
This is how the system is designed.
The clinic doesn't want you to know the cost because you might not schedule an appointment if you knew. The insurance company doesn't want to commit to coverage for a future appointment, because they might need to increase their profits by reducing (or eliminating) their coverage before you see the doctor.
Which, if you live in an underserved region like I do, could take months to get an appointment.
What amuses me about this bullshit is that these are the bad things that people who don't want universal healthcare try and scare people with! It'll take forever to see a doctor? It takes fucking forever right now. We can't determine how much it will cost? We can't determine how much it fucking costs right now.
My issue isn't life-threatening. Well, I suppose it could end up there, but no... not really.
But what if it were life-threatening?
Well, the way it works in The United States of America is that you just have to sign on for treatment blindly and hope you don't have to declare bankruptcy so you can live.
And don't get me started about people who get sick and could be easily and cheaply treated in the beginning... but they can't afford it... so they wait and wait until they are near death and it's horrendously expensive to treat (if it's treatable at all) so taxpayers ends up paying for their bills because they end up losing everything. What fucking sense does that make? Give everybody healthcare so everybody is healthy and problems are fixed when they're cheap! As a taxpayer, I'd rather pay for what's cheap than what's horrendously expensive!
Maybe one day politicians will take a break from sucking lobbyist cock long enough to figure out how to make health care affordable for everybody.
Because the only people benefiting from the system we have now are insurance companies. And the politicians being paid off by insurance companies. Considering their health care is free and they don't give a fuck about anybody else, I don't expect them to stop sucking that lobbyist cock any time soon.
This is also how the system is designed.
Hoping those who get a three-day holiday weekend are enjoying their day off. As for me? I get the luxury of only working a half-day, and I'll take it!
When you are remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country...
Please take a moment to remember those who are still missing in service of their country...
Enjoy that barbecue!
Happy Pride Month, everybody!
But especially to my hetero-challenge friends who mean more to me than butter.
And if this isn't the perfect thing to post for the start of Pride, I don't know what is...
Be happy out there, people.
Everybody is laughing at the idea of spending billions of dollars we don't have on a "space force." But you won't be laughing when the alien invasion comes and we are DOMINATINNNNNNG SPAAAAACE!!!
Oh... you say aliens that are capable of interstellar travel will have technology that makes any "space force" we come up with about as threatening as a BB gun? Well... well... WE CAN STILL KEEP THE MEXICANS FROM INVADING THE MOON! HA!! CHECKMATE, HATERS!!!
Space exploration has always resulted in amazing technologies that eventually filter downward and make everybody's life better. I 100% support my tax dollars going towards organizations like NASA, who do a lot more than just push the boundaries of human knowledge... they also invest in technologies which keep us safe and help us to have a better understanding of the world we inhabit and (at least until the current administration) the dangers we face from the destruction we're causing to it.
Likewise, I also 100% support my tax dollars being spent on defense. Sure, I think it's insane that we have such a massive military complex when so many of the current threats we face can't be remedied that way... and it seems crazy that we have weapons enough to destroy the world a hundred times over and are told we still need more... but I want our military to always have access to cutting-edge technology which keeps them (and us) safe. So yeah, budget for that. Not military parades and golf trips on Air Force One, but that.
And now we're getting a space force?
We've got homeless vets, a stupid-ass 100% completely ineffectual wall to build, and legions of other problems that could use our tax dollars... but pew! pew! pew! pew!
Whatever the fuck this is...
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Go West! And so tonight was the second season finale of HBO's Westworld. After being shocked to my core my the brilliance of the first season, I was really looking forward to what happens next. Unfortunately what happens next has largely been a confusing mess and a disappointment. All sympathy built up for the hosts trying to break free of their endless torture evaporated as psycho-Dolores lowered herself to the level of a human and wholesale slaughtered people by the hundreds...
But there were bright spots of course. The diversion into Shogunworld was a bit boring, but at least it was different. The return of "Ford" was a welcome treat. And then came episode 8, Kiksuya, which was a totally random departure, but absolutely beautiful to behold...
And then there was the finale.
I won't delve too deep into spoilers here for those who haven't seen it. But I will say that this season was a frustrating jumble of timeline jumps that were needlessly complex... and clumsy in execution compared to the first season. The finale didn't do much to make the more esoteric story beats any easier to comprehend, but it did wrap up some critical storylines and toss in enough twists to make me glad I invested my time in watching it. Here's hoping that the third season will try not to go so absurdly meta-philosophical and be more clever than obtuse.
• Paul! If you're even a casual fan of The Beatles, this is for you...
If you're a massive fan like me, it's really for you though.
• Batfleck! This article about DC's horrible handling of the Affleck Batman era nails it. How can you have a Batman at the end of his career be a part of a larger, continuing story? The Batman that Zack Snyder created makes absolutely no sense for The beginning of a franchise... Affleck or no Affleck... and it drives me crazy that Snyder was so sublimely oblivious to this fact. What? Batman is just going to be this old, broken, sad character on his last legs in every movie from here on out? So stupid. I've waited most of my life for DC characters to come together on the big screen... I've been dreaming about it since the Christopher Reeves' Superman movies... and I'll never forgive Zack Snyder for his heinously bad vision that ruined everything. All he had to do was look at the Bruce Timm animated shows (or decades of actual DC comic books) to see how Batman could work... both alone and in a larger narrative... but he decided to make something totally lame, incoherent, and just plain awful instead. He was the wrong choice for these films from the very start because he had no interest in portraying the characters as they are, but instead wanted to"put his own stamp"on them. And sadly, that's exactly what we got.
• Simba? This was made over a year ago. I am just now finding it. High-larious...
• Fan! Jake was hanging around while I was working in bed. He wanted to be petted, so I obliged for a bit...
Then the temperature started rising so I turned on the ceiling fan...
Jake loves airing out his junk, that's for sure.
• Act! Posted for no particular reason...
It's textbook, really.
And, on that foreboding note... time to finish up Luke Cage on Netflix! If you're not watching this, it's worth your time. The show is a slow-burn with incredible acting by a cast to die for. If Alfre Woodard doesn't get a truck-full of awards for her amazing work on Luke Cage, there's something wrong.
We're on fire again and smoke fills the air... but don't despair, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• M-S-G Can You Dig It? Absolutely fascinating...
I don't eat Chinese food hardly at all (it's not very good here, and choices for vegetarians are severely limited)... and yet I've heard the MSG myth forever.
• Monkey Business! In case everybody doesn't know... I put the first volume of Bad Monkey Comix up to read online for free. You can take a look by clicking on this image...
Or you can just click this link!
• New MacBooks! Apple's new "Pro" MacBooks once again lacking the ports that "pros" need to actually FUNCTION in their fucking JOBS. Such a crock of shit. DONGLES! DONGLES EVERYWHERE!!!
I thought that Apple was supposed to be working with pros to find out what they want in "pro" products? I don't think that's true. Otherwise they wouldn't be sticking with a shallow, shitty keyboard and no standard USB ports. At least you get more than one port now. Still no MagSafe, which sucks.
• Science Fact! Tom Bailey's new album, Science Fiction, is here! If you pre-ordered, it has probably arrived (my autographed copy of the deluxe set did!) but you can also listen to it on the usual streaming services. I'm saving my review for another entry, but here's a sneak preview: love it.
• Be You! Oh noes. Roll up on a woman, call her a slut because of what she is wearing, then think that you can then proceed to slut-shame her into submission? Not. This. Woman. Not today. My guess is not any day...
What absolutely kills me about this is how we rave about "American freedom"... but never seem to back that up. Whether it's telling a Muslim woman she's wearing too much... or telling this woman she's wearing too little... everybody is just DYING to tell OTHER PEOPLE HOW TO LIVE THEIR LIVES. Well fuck that. Live your truth. Be who you are. Defy those who would oppress YOUR FREEDOM by defining what it means for you to be free. So long as you're not endangering others, be free to be you.
• Incompetence. I have been trying very hard to keep politics off of Blogography because I don't want it degrading into a comedy of horrors that makes me want to slit my wrists every time I visit my own blog. But things are so bad right now. So bad. And people don't even seem to realize what's happening. The Trump Administration trade fiasco is probably going to damage this country more than anything so far. Companies are already laying off scores of workers because the reciprocal tariffs are making it impossible for them to operate. It's horrendous, and it's just the beginning. From Professor David Honig...
I’m going to get a little wonky and write about Donald Trump and negotiations. For those who don't know, I'm an adjunct professor at Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law and I teach negotiations. Okay, here goes.
Trump, as most of us know, is the credited author of The Art of the Deal, a book that was actually ghost written by a man named Tony Schwartz, who was given access to Trump and wrote based upon his observations. If you've read The Art of the Deal, or if you've followed Trump lately, you'll know, even if you didn't know the label, that he sees all dealmaking as what we call "distributive bargaining."
Distributive bargaining always has a winner and a loser. It happens when there is a fixed quantity of something and two sides are fighting over how it gets distributed. Think of it as a pie and you're fighting over who gets how many pieces. In Trump's world, the bargaining was for a building, or for construction work, or subcontractors. He perceives a successful bargain as one in which there is a winner and a loser, so if he pays less than the seller wants, he wins. The more he saves the more he wins.
The other type of bargaining is called integrative bargaining. In integrative bargaining the two sides don't have a complete conflict of interest, and it is possible to reach mutually beneficial agreements. Think of it, not a single pie to be divided by two hungry people, but as a baker and a caterer negotiating over how many pies will be baked at what prices, and the nature of their ongoing relationship after this one gig is over.
The problem with Trump is that he sees only distributive bargaining in an international world that requires integrative bargaining. He can raise tariffs, but so can other countries. He can't demand they not respond. There is no defined end to the negotiation and there is no simple winner and loser. There are always more pies to be baked. Further, negotiations aren't binary. China's choices aren't (a) buy soybeans from US farmers, or (b) don't buy soybeans. They can also (c) buy soybeans from Russia, or Argentina, or Brazil, or Canada, etc. That completely strips the distributive bargainer of his power to win or lose, to control the negotiation.
One of the risks of distributive bargaining is bad will. In a one-time distributive bargain, e.g. negotiating with the cabinet maker in your casino about whether you're going to pay his whole bill or demand a discount, you don't have to worry about your ongoing credibility or the next deal. If you do that to the cabinet maker, you can bet he won't agree to do the cabinets in your next casino, and you're going to have to find another cabinet maker.
There isn't another Canada.
So when you approach international negotiation, in a world as complex as ours, with integrated economies and multiple buyers and sellers, you simply must approach them through integrative bargaining. If you attempt distributive bargaining, success is impossible. And we see that already.
Trump has raised tariffs on China. China responded, in addition to raising tariffs on US goods, by dropping all its soybean orders from the US and buying them from Russia. The effect is not only to cause tremendous harm to US farmers, but also to increase Russian revenue, making Russia less susceptible to sanctions and boycotts, increasing its economic and political power in the world, and reducing ours. Trump saw steel and aluminum and thought it would be an easy win, BECAUSE HE SAW ONLY STEEL AND ALUMINUM - HE SEES EVERY NEGOTIATION AS DISTRIBUTIVE. China saw it as integrative, and integrated Russia and its soybean purchase orders into a far more complex negotiation ecosystem.
Trump has the same weakness politically. For every winner there must be a loser. And that's just not how politics works, not over the long run.
For people who study negotiations, this is incredibly basic stuff, negotiations 101, definitions you learn before you even start talking about styles and tactics. And here's another huge problem for us.
Trump is utterly convinced that his experience in a closely held real estate company has prepared him to run a nation, and therefore he rejects the advice of people who spent entire careers studying the nuances of international negotiations and diplomacy. But the leaders on the other side of the table have not eschewed expertise, they have embraced it. And that means they look at Trump and, given his very limited tool chest and his blindly distributive understanding of negotiation, they know exactly what he is going to do and exactly how to respond to it.
From a professional negotiation point of view, Trump isn't even bringing checkers to a chess match. He's bringing a quarter that he insists of flipping for heads or tails, while everybody else is studying the chess board to decide whether its better to open with Najdorf or Grünfeld.
— David Honig
This level of incompetence when it comes to trade is going to completely and totally fuck us. And make no mistake that we, as a country, are fucked. And this is just trade. We are equally fucked in many other areas. Which leads me to believe that President Trump thinks that the era where America was "great" is The Great Depression.
And don't think that just getting a new president in two years is going to fix the problem. The things that have been screwed up may very well take decades to correct. If they are correctable at all.
• Czech! Came home to see Stripes was on this past week. It was at the part where their unit has accidentally crossed the border into Czechoslovakia and so, naturally, they're all going to die. Amazing how international relations have changed within my lifetime. I've been to Czechoslovakia... and China... and Romania... and other countries it was assumed I would never be able to step foot in back in the day...
Of course... thanks to the ineptness of the Trump Administration, we may very well be going back to those times, so I guess I'm happy to have enjoyed it while it lasted. Pretty soon the only place that Americans may be able to travel is Russia and North Korea.
• Which Brings Us To... So... under President Obama we were the laughing stock of the world you say? What about now, you feckless ridiculous ignorant fuck?
The absurdity of where we are as a country keeps hitting new lows.
And, I think that's enough bullets for a smoke-filled Sunday. See you next week!
I missed half of this crap. It's just so unreal.
Which is saying something given the nature of our current reality...
Didn't know that Ireland wasn't a part of the UK?!? It just keeps getting worse and worse and worse.
Within the span of a 45 minute press conference! This is a perfect snapshot of the bigger picture and how there' no bottom to hit when it comes to our president.
The current host of The Daily Show is Trevor Noah, a South African native who was tasked with the impossible job of filling Jon Stewart's shoes after he left the desk.
For the most part, he's done an amazing job. He is incredibly funny, whip-smart, and has a delivery that makes every joke land with a lethal precision that makes so many other comedians feel like a blunt instrument.
The Right tends to dismiss him as a progressive mouthpiece, but that's a gross simplification. It makes him sound like he's a Left-Wing Tomi Lahren who just stupidly parrots talking points without actually contributing anything to the conversation. That's not even remotely true. Trevor has a viewpoint that's uniquely his own, which is on full display on his "Between the Scenes" YouTube Channel where he is totally off-script and just talking to the audience.
On the occasion of Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, Trevor... who is in a unique position to offer commentary... paid tribute on tonight's show. I have watched this segment three times now, and won't be deleting it from my DVR. If you've ever listened to anything I've had to say here, trust me and take a look at the following 8 minutes...
Only Trevor Noah. If you haven't listened to his audiobook for Born a Crime, you owe it to yourself to do that.
Listening to Mandela telling how he received his "Christian name" is fascinating to me. And profoundly sad. The idea that your name is unacceptable because other people have a problem with it seems... inhumane.
But inhumane treatment was nothing new to Rolihlahla Mandela.
Home again home again... and just in time too, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Mutants! The news of the week? Disney's offer to buy out 21st Century Fox's movie properties was approved by the shareholders on both sides. They still have to get regulatory approval, but it's expected there won't be any issues. And so? The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and Deadpool franchises will be headed to Marvel Studios. Which means we might finally get to see a good X-Men film... and we hopefully won't get more horrendously shitty Fantastic Four films. Deadpool was done right (twice!), but he lives outside of comic book reality, so he won't require a reboot. He'll just comment about his new universe and move on. In all honesty, I don't give too big a crap about the mutant teams showing up alongside The Avengers and so-on... but I am beyond excited to see The Fantastic Four popping up everywhere...
There is so much potential there.
• Big Gunn! And speaking of Marvel Studios... they've cut loose Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn over offensive tweets he made almost a decade ago. I have mixed feelings over it all. On one hand he has repeatedly apologized for what he said, explained that it was a poor attempt at being provocative, he has moved on, and he tries hard to not be that person any more. On the other hand though... the jokes(?) were about things like pedophilia and rape and really don't qualify as "jokes" at all, assuming that was the intent. They certainly weren't funny. But... is that worth losing the third act of The Guardians of the Galaxy over? In the end I'd have to say "no." It would be a different matter entirely if he actually was a rapist and pedophile... but he's not. He was just entirely too stupid to understand he wasn't being provocative or funny... he was just being an asshole. And if we're going to start firing people in Hollywood for being stupid assholes, at least half of the industry would be gone.
• Printables! Downloadable guns? Well that sure took less time than I thought.
• Roasted! The Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis was on tonight. It was raunchy, horrible fun as always...
But every time one of these comes up, I cannot help but think back to one of the best roast lines ever said. Sandra Bernhard was preceding Jeffrey Ross at the roast of Jerry Stiller. Jeffrey stepped up and said "Yeesh, I wouldn't fuck you with Bea Arthur's dick!"... with Bea Arthur in attendance. I had always wondered if Bea Arthur ever reacted to it, so tonight I Googled it. Turns out Jeffrey Ross has a story about that.
• McWrong! Ever wonder what happens when McDonald's wraps your Egg & Cheese Biscuit Sandwich inside-out? Here you go...
I was too hungry to throw it all out, so I tore off as much of the color as I could. Hopefully it's non-toxic in case I didn't get it all.
• Kurzge-wha?! And here's my new favorite thing of the moment on the internet the Kurzgesagt Channel on YouTube...
If you've got time to waste, here's the place to go.
And that's the end of that. See you next Sunday.
This Sunday is 17% more lethal than usual... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Vote! Voting in the August Primary was fairly easy for me. If you're a Republican, I Google to see how hard you've worked to disavow President Trump and his entire cesspool of an Administration. If you haven't... or, heaven forbid, you support the assholes... you get no vote from me. I then look at all the Democrats and research who is in a best position to defeat the Trump-enabling Republican running. Because right now? That's all I give a shit about. Making sure that every last fucking Republican who isn't whole-heartedly disavowing Trump goes down in fucking flames. I don't want Republicans to LOSE in the upcoming election... I want them to be UTTERLY DECIMATED AND DESTROYED. I used to vote with no regard to party affiliation and ended up with both Republicans and Democrats on my ballot. Not any more. After Trump, Republican politicians don't deserve air to breathe, let alone my fucking vote...
Has there ever been so petty a piece of shit president in this country? LeBron has done more for education by opening up ONE SCHOOL than Trump, DeVos, and their entire administration has ever done.
• Shit! Late-night television is really something else. SexToys followed by Larry King? Seems about right...
And after that? More shit, along with some other program before it...
Larry King is one of those people who I can't for the life of me understand how they got famous. He has to be one of the worst interviewers of all time. He has no fucking clue what he's talking about and always seems woefully unprepared and completely ignorant as to the person he's interviewing. At least now he's putting is "talent" to appropriate use by hawking senseless shit in infomercials.
• Cool! This week I took the "What I have in my refrigerator" challenge...
YES! FOUR KINDS OF MAYO!!! I use the cheap stuff for salads, Best Foods for burgers, Kraft for egg salad, and Dukes for fries (I use it when I'm out of Dutch mayo, like now). If I had to give them all up, I'd eat only Dutch mayo.
• Big Gunn Two! Another take on where we are now...
Twitter... memories that never really go away...
• Failure to Launch! Johnny Rockets, where I first discovered Boca Burger patties years ago in Santa Monica, has now replaced them with a Black bean patty. Which is stupid as fucking hell. People go to Johnny Rockets for a BURGER. Even vegetarians go there for a BURGER. They just don't want to kill a cow to get one. And what's really stupid? THEY'RE ALL FUCKING FROZEN! They could have had both of they wanted a black bean burger so badly. And so... after decades of visiting Johnny Rockets around the globe... no more Rockets, bitches. No more Rockets for me.
• Liberty! And, lastly, here it is for those eating paste right from the jar...
NEWS: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces "Religious Liberty Task Force."
This is the most insane, fucked-up bullshit yet. We now need a task force to protect Christianity?!? Because it should be painfully obvious that they are NOT doing this to protect Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, or any other NON-CHRISTIAN religions. Since when are Christians a minority in need of protection? Last time I checked, they weren't fucking BURNING CHRISTIANS IN THE STREETS. Last time I checked, you could still go in a fucking UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT POST OFFICE AND BUY NATIVITY STAMPS FOR CHRISTMAS. Last time I checked, CHRISTIANITY WAS THE LARGEST RELIGIOUS GROUP IN THE COUNTRY. Make no mistake... NO MISTAKE... this is nothing more than a full-on attack on gay, lesbian, and transgender persons... and any other American who doesn't fit into the mold that these fucked-up assholes feel is acceptable. Disgusting. Task force? Horse shit. Nothing like your own government spreading fear and persecution to keep their power. I wonder if they'll be required to wear uniforms? Brown shirts, perhaps? No... probably more like white hoods...
Until next Sunday then...
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 4: Thor
Original Grade: B+ • Today's Grade: B+
I was never a huge fan of the Thor comic books. Sure I read them off-and-on... sure I loved what Walt Simonson did with the character in his run... but he never got to the level of Doctor Strange or Black Panther or Fantastic Four or Iron Man for me. But then this movie dropped and I became a pretty huge Thor fan. Partly because the movie was done so well... but mostly because I could see just how Thor would work as another piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A lot of the credit can be given to Kenneth Branagh for bringing a majesty to the character and to Asgard that the film needed to sell the story. Asgard was epic in scope and beautifully designed. Silly concepts like Bifröst, a "rainbow bridge," were given perfectly believable representations that worked. And though his full potential wouldn't be seen until Ragnarok, how frickin' perfect is Chris Hemsworth in the role? Not anybody else was a slouch in the acting department. Anthony Hopkins is about the best possible Odin we could have hoped for. Tom Hiddleston brought so much energy to playing Loki that the character has been as much a lynchpin for the MCU as its heroes. Idris Elba, Natalie Portman, Renee Russo, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings... anybody and everybody was so wonderfully, thoughtfully cast. And a standing ovation to Patrick Doyle for the score. Soaring and beautiful, it was a tangible presence throughout the film. Overall, Thor was a crucial step on the road to Avengers that could have been a disaster. Instead it's a worthy addition that totally holds up.
SCENE TO BEAT: The frost giant battle puts a pin in what makes Thor be Thor.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: There are two problems with this film that I have a tough time getting past. 1) The entire span of the film happens over like... what... two... three days? Yes I love the movie, but if you stop a minute and think about how insane the timetable is, things get a little ridiculous. 2) They bleached Hemsworth's eyebrows and it looks crazy distracting. Thankfully they gave up on this absurdity in future movies.
SIDENOTE: When they decided to do away with the whole secret identity nonsense in Iron Man, I honestly thought that would be the end of it. But then along comes Thor, and Dr. Donald Blake was brought up, then dropped like a hot potato. It was a fantastic decision which has been carried forward (more or less) with each new movie. So smart. Given the rather short runtime of a major motion picture, there's just not time to waste on the whole idea, so why bother? It was cute in the original Superman movies, got tired in the Batman films, and is downright silly now. Sure special effects are so economical and amazing that we can show Superman doing all kinds of crazy awesome stuff... but let's blow precious screen-time having Clark Kent investigate a story. And while Hawkeye is the butt of a lot of jokes when it comes to the Marvel Studios films, I have to say they gave him a really good cameo here as we ramped up for Avengers.
Whenever a fire siren goes off in town, my heart stops for a second. When you live in a city as small as mine, there's a good chance that somebody you know has their home on fire. Not that it's any less sad when it's a stranger losing their home, but it does hit you harder.
Right now it's especially terrible when the siren sounds because a fire happening when there's wildfires all around us just seems cruel.
Today the smoke was so thick in the air that I could barely make out the nearby hills. If you look at this map...
...that huge red dot in the middle is just North of where I live. It's a wildfire that's currently 29,186 acres in size and only 5% contained. When the winds blow South, the smoke comes with it. For me that means a day of burning eyes and difficulty breathing.
But that's not the worst part.
The smoke is a constant reminder that hundreds... thousands... of animals are losing their homes and living in terror. And many of those may not survive it. Unlike people, they don't understand what's happening, and that has been weighing heavy on me.
Our local animal shelter has had to stop taking in owner surrenders because they just don't have room. They have to shelter animals from people under evacuation with what little space they have available. And this also weighs heavy on me. I try and think of how terrified Jake and Jenny would be in a shelter... trapped in a small cage with nowhere to hide from the noise and people. I can't imagine how traumatized they would be. I can't imagine that they would ever be the same. I just can't imagine. It's just too awful.
A part of me wants to run down and adopt another cat... do my part to free up some space. But I don't think that's for me. Jake and Jenny are perfect. Life with Jake and Jenny is perfect. We've adapted to each other very well and I think they are happy here. If introducing another element in any way disrupts that, it wouldn't be fair to Jake and Jenny. Or me.
I cannot say that I won't give in and take a chance.
I really need to unsubscribe from the Human Society newsletter and Facebook feed. Too many animals need homes.
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 12: Ant-Man
Original Grade: A • Today's Grade: A
I knew I would love this movie the minute that Paul Rudd was attached to star. Then they went and made it into a caper flick so it would stand out from the pack, which was about a brilliant a move as they could have made. I ended up really loving it. Still holds up today. I'm having to really restrain myself from bumping it up to an A+ here, because I have a tough time seeing how the first Ant-Man movie could have been much better than this.
SCENE TO BEAT: That opening scene where SHIELD's headquarters (as seen in Captain America: Winter Soldier (three movies ago) are just being built... and we get a de-aged Michael Douglas interacting with Peggy Carter and Howard Stark... thus immediately cementing Ant-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe before he even appears on screen! Genius! But... yeah... the fight in Cassie's bedroom was pretty great. They played with the size altering abilities in interesting ways, which was a lot of fun.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Once again... the villain has the same powers as the hero but is a little stronger. It gets so old. And yet... from a story perspective I get it. Yellow Jacket kinda fell out of Scott Lang's origin story, so it was a logical choice. Fortunately, we got Ghost in the sequel, which was something entirely different.
SIDENOTE: With every viewing I remember how upset I was before the movie came out when I heard that Scott Lang would be in the suit instead of the original Ant-Man from the comics. Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne were founding members of The Avengers, and it was a real slap in the face they were being side-stepped. And then I saw the movie and the way they so brilliantly integrated Hank Pym into the history of everything the MCU was building. It was a brilliant move and made perfect sense. It was at this point that I finally just stopped questioning what Marvel Studios was doing until I saw the full film. In most every case they end up nailing it, so why waste the energy?
Attempting to battle my way through the smoke... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Fires! The weather over the mountains was a bit hazy, but the skies were clear much of the time which was a nice change. Looking towards home this morning revealed what was awaiting me. At the top of the pass it was socked in and it never let up all the way home...
Supply trucks are on the road, headed towards the fire front...
And... I'm home. Such as it is...
The largest of the fires, Cougar Creek (currently 36719 acres), is just 16 miles north of me. It's spread a bit since I last checked, but is now 35% contained, which is pretty impressive work by our firefighters considering it was just 5% contained on Monday...
I guess now is the time we pray for rain. But no lightning, which is what started this fire in the first place.
• Entertainment! Turns out the best toy for a cat is still a cardboard box...
Anything I can do to keep the cats entertained inside the house instead of out in a smokey catio is a good thing.
• Soul. Aretha Franklin passed away which means the Queen of Soul has left us. There are many songs she's given us which put her on the throne... but my favorite is her duet with George Michael for I knew You Were Waiting...
Too many classic artists are leaving us too soon. Rest in peace, Miss Franklin.
• Bears! This video came across my newsfeed and I had to watch it multiple times...
I always feel bad for animals who have their territory encroached on by humans. The least we can do is let them take a dip in our pools from time to time.
• Outrage! Oh... I am outraged alright, Pat. Don't you worry your foolish old head about that.
Lock children in cages and separate them from their parents perhaps never to return because of a line on a map = God's work.
Reading to children = Work of the devil and the end of all humanity.
Just die already you vile, worthless, repugnant piece of shit.
• EnChroma! Instead of spending billions on a stupid wall that won't work... and a military parade to compensate for a tiny, tiny penis on a fucking lunatic... why not buy these EnChroma glasses for everybody who needs them? There are literally thousands of things that are a better use for money this country doesn't have...
And yet... here we are. Getting exactly what we deserve.
And that's a wrap on bullets for this week. Tune in again in a mere seven days...
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 18: Black Panther
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
"Hey Auntie." =sigh= As I had mentioned, My favorite Marvel heroes have always been Doctor Strange and Black Panther. To get movies this amazing for both characters was a dream come true. Though calling Black Panther "good" is an epic understatement. This film was sublime. Steeped in African culture, we got something truly different than the Western super-hero fare which had come before. The fact that they were so painfully faithful to the source material is just a bonus. It was all here. The vast hidden wealth and mind-boggling technical superiority of Wakanda. The Dora Milaje. Character references old and new. And then they went and made T'Challa into a super-hero James Bond!
SCENE TO BEAT: That casino fight and subsequent car chase in South Korea was pretty spectacular.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Not a dang thing.
SIDENOTE: I want sequels to all the Marvel movies. All of them. There is not a single film that's left me thinking "Well, that's enough of that." But when it comes to the sequel I want to see right this minute... it's Black Panther. Things could head in a hundred different directions and almost all of them are going to be fascinating. And then there's the Wakanda outreach program, which has fascinating implications for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Surely another movie is coming soon, right? The first one made like... a billion dollars!
Love? Love is not forever. Love dies every day.
Diamonds? Diamonds aren't forever. They're tough, but can be crushed and even burned.
Tweets though? Tweets are here for all eternity. We see the ramifications of it constantly. Tweets come back to haunt people on an almost daily basis.
Take for example...
I don't use Twitter much.
I've got a blog to come back and haunt me forever.
Every once in a while I need a reminder of why I love my country. Well, if I'm being honest, now-a-days I need a reminder almost daily... but you know what I mean.
Everything I think The United States of America should be about can be found right here...
I sure hope that Texans vote for this guy over heinous piece of shit Ted Cruz.
But don't take my advice about Ted Cruz... here's what our president thinks of Lyin' Ted...
I don't always agree with President Trump, but boy did he hit the nail on the head here!
Meh. I liked Sunday a lot better when it was being followed by a holiday. But don't think that this Sunday isn't going to be great... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• TED! Even if Nyle DiMarco wasn't the most super-humanly beautiful person on the planet, he would still be a beautiful human being...
Love who you are.
• Canadians! A lot of truth to be found in humor...
And sometimes the truth hurts.
• Elvin! What kind of completely bankrupt society do we live in that somebody working hard to earn an honest living is shamed? Like THIS is the guy from The Cosby Show that deserves to be shamed...
Seeing as how he had to quit his job at Trader Joe's, I'm glad he's got new work on Tyler Perry's upcoming show.
• FUCKING GAY CUPCAKES! What's so hilarious is how dumbfucks like Santorum actually believe the shit they are saying...
I have literally seen signs which say "If you don't believe in Jesus, don't shop here" while driving through Mississippi. There are documented incidents of gay couples who dare to hold hands in a shop or business getting kicked out! And what about all these YouTube videos which show discrimination against Persons of Color when trying to shop... or dine... OR EXIST in a racist business? THIS IS TOTALLY HAPPENING NOW, AND IF YOU SAY IT ISN'T THEN YOU ARE A FUCKING MORON. Not that being a fucking moron is anything new where Santorum is considered.
• Just Burn It! There it is...
Though these parodies would be a lot funnier if they weren't so damn accurate.
• Just Exploit It! Nike is a highly profitable business. They know their customer base. As with everything they do, their Colin Kaepernik commercial was a business decision. If they thought that supporting peaceful protest and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee would hurt their bottom line, they wouldn't be doing it. All these ridiculous shoe burnings and threats of boycott are just free publicity for Nike to appeal even more to the bulk of the people who are buying their stuff in the first place...
The simple fact is that Nike is a multi-national company whose profits aren't tied solely to the USA. Even if their sales were cut in half here, they're still going to be an immensely profitable brand around the globe. But yeah... go ahead and burn those sneakers. Nike already has your money. They don't give a shit. Or... why not donate your Nike gear to homeless vets if you don't want it any more?
• Iron Fist 2! Well, wow. I hated the first season of Iron Fist. I couldn't stand that the character dragged down The Defenders. But the second season is pretty good! First of all... DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON, BABY! YEEEAH!
Finn Jones is much better this time around. He acts more like a human than a frickin' Keanu Reeves impersonating robot... though I still maintain he's the wrong guy to play Iron Fist. He isn't as fluid and fun as the comics, and it's such a missed opportunity.
As is usual for the Marvel Netflix shows, the first half of the season is slow to the point of tedium with an occasional fight scene tossed in... then the back-end slaps you in the face and makes it all worthwhile. In the case of Iron Fist, the last episode is great, and what we should have been getting all along. What we also should have been getting all along? That trademark yellow mask, which finally makes an appearance...
This season starts off with Danny Rand fulfilling his promise to Daredevil to defend Hell's Kitchen... BY SETTING UP SHOP IN CHINATOWN?!?? Hell's Kitchen is west of Midtown. Chinatown is way south from there! But whatevs. The story revolves around Davos (aka Steel Serpent), the Iron Fist who wasn't, seeking revenge on Dany Rand for taking the mantle he believes is rightfully his. The guy is legit nuts, which could have been silly if not for Sacha Dhawan being so compelling in the role. Along the way we get Joy Meecham and "Mary" (aka Typhoid Mary) as supporting villains. Mary started off unbearably irritating with her personality shifts being far less entertaining than if they had made her a straight-up villain from the start, but it ended up paying off at the very end.
In lieu of The Hand this time, we get forgettable syndicate villains in the form of rival triad gangs Golden Tigers and Hatchets. On one hand, I understand the need to provide legions of bad guys for Iron Fist to plow through, but it's just so tired to have triads floating through all the Netflix shows solely as disposable Asian cannon fodder. Come up with something new.
Like I said... this new season is pretty good. Mostly because of the ending. It could lead the show in a much better direction. Also helping? The fact that they cut it down to ten episodes. Which has me wondering if it would have been an even better season if they had streamlined things even further and cut it to six. Jettisoning all the Meecham sibling crap would have been a good start, and that alone would have made things so much better. They made everything grind to a halt every time they are injected into the story.
And... bullets spent. See you next Sunday.
Today I walked to work because my foot was stiff after having elevated it all weekend. I also chopped off a chunk of my damaged toenail because it was itching UNDER the nail. That hurt. It probably would have hurt less if I managed to keep my eyes open the whole time I was performing home surgery, but the blood was freaking me out. After coating it with antibiotics and bandaging it, I felt much, much better.
Until I walked to work. By the time I got there my foot was on fire and I felt like I was going to pass out.
But I'm still glad that I walked. I should do that more often.
Also? On the walk back home I saw this rock next to the railroad tracks...
Awwww. I'm guessing this means I'm lucky now?
I could use some luck!
And so could the East Coast of these United States of America...
Yikes. Scary. What does God have against The Outer Banks? Or maybe it's because North Carolina voted for Trump. Because that's the way it works, right?
As I said last year, pretty much all I have left to say on the subject of 9/11 can be found here. Now that my mom is gone, that's even more true since it's her story too. And so I'll just be linking to that entry from here on out when it comes time to remember the tragedy of the terrorist attacks.
When I was going through my mom's stuff last month I found this...
She saved her ticket stub from when I took her up the "Top of the World" at The World Trade Center on that day.
Mom saved a lot of stuff from our travels. Tons of stuff. I'm finding things like matchbooks and coasters from restaurants to brochures and pamphlets of activities we did to receipts and ticket stubs like this one. I had asked her why she'd want to save all this kind of stuff and she'd explain that it was just souvenirs. One day she thought she'd want to look back and remember all the things we did when she was too old to travel any more.
It's sad that she never got that chance. But kinda cool that she was so busy visiting new places that she never had time to look back on old travels while she was alive. Well, except for the photo books I made her. She'd look at those often. Many times while showing them to other people. Where the first words out of her mouth would be "Are your hands clean?"
Funny how I didn't start out as much of a picture-taker, but the books kept getting thicker and thicker as I was taking more and more photos. There's no book for 2006 because I helped her buy a car instead of taking her on vacation that year. I think I ended up taking her with me on a work trip to San Francisco or something, but it wasn't the same.
One of these days I really need to look at these again. And create a book for all the miscellaneous trips we took from 1994 to 2001 that I never got around to. Most of these I haven't opened in years. And one of them I can't find. Her book from Cambodia and Laos (Southeast Asia Vol. 2) has gone missing.
Even if I don't find it, I'm sure there's a matchbook from Cambodia around here somewhere.
And whether you believe that climate change is man-made (spoiler alert: very likely) and question whether it is responsible for the increase in hurricane activity (spoiler alter: very likely) everybody can agree that the death and destruction caused by these monster storms is a tragedy that never seems to end...
But no worries... a crazy old racist bigot piece of shit is on the case!
Hey, nobody hopes that he's right more than me.
After what another crazy old racist bigot piece of shit has done, the aftermath of a catastrophic storm is something we simply are not able to deal with.
To everybody in the path of these storms, be safe. Evacuate if you can.
Just when you thought that Hurricane Florence was the worst thing happening to this country right now.
I remember the AIDS crisis very well.
The first time I was exposed to it was when a guy a few years behind me in school was rumored to have the disease. Eventually he just... disappeared. No news. No nothing. I have no idea what ever became of him. I do know that his younger brother deflected it by telling unfunny gay and AIDS jokes.* I guess he was intent on making sure nobody thought he was gay too. At the time, I didn't know much about AIDS (there wasn't much to know) but it still seemed incredibly sad. If the guy did have AIDS, then even his family was ridiculing him as he was struggling.
I grew up in rural America where homosexuality was so deep in the closet that it was virtually unheard of outside of gay jokes and people like Boy George becoming famous. I'm sure gay people existed here in the 80's when the AIDS epidemic was beginning, but they were invisible in our community so far as I knew. Probably out of necessity. I heard more than one story of people being run out of town (or, more likely, being threatened with being run out of town) for whatever reason (like having the wrong color skin, for example). So if you were gay and still wanted to live here knowing how some of the natives are, you probably didn't talk about your sexuality openly.
Heck, I had a hard enough time growing up here when people just thought I was gay.** I'm not the most masculine of guys, and apparently that's enough. Never mind that I've only ever dated women and am not sexually attracted to men,*** it's what people think that matters.
Anyway... where was I? Oh yeah.
And then I graduated high school in 1984 and found my way to the real world.
At this time people didn't know much about HIV and AIDS. It was still very much thought of as a "gay disease" even though it had spread far beyond that. I remember seeing protests on the news because people didn't want to send their kids to school if another student had AIDS. Ignorance and fear were rampant and there was a huge amount of misinformation about how you get the disease. Everybody was in a panic, and our government seemed uninterested in helping matters. Despite this horrific failure by President Reagan and our elected officials, people had become better-educated by the time I was finishing up community college in 1986-87. But the stigma was still there. As were the deaths.
My occupation in graphic design is a highly creative field. For whatever reason, creative jobs attract a higher-than-average number of gay persons to their ranks. Which meant I had to set aside my sheltered upbringing and go from barely knowing homosexuality exists... to working with gay people on a regular basis. Luckily my parents provided an atmosphere of tolerance growing up which made this an easy adjustment. What was not easy was living from day to day wondering if any of my friends and colleagues were going to end up missing due to an AIDS-related illness. I'd call to speak with somebody I had been working with just the week before... only to be told that they were no longer there. They were too sick to work. You knew it was coming. They would tell you it was coming. But it was never an easy thing to hear. Sometimes I was able to make it to Seattle or Portland or San Francisco to visit them. Sometimes I wasn't. Sometimes I made it to their funeral.
After a while it became difficult to get through the week without AIDS being a part of the picture. If it wasn't news about somebody you knew, it was somebody known by somebody you knew. As we reached the 90's you'd find yourself becoming numb to it. You had to. It was the only way to stay sane. Usually hearing that somebody died is like a bomb being dropped. Even if you didn't know them very well. But now it was worked into passive conversation. You'd find out someone was gone while eating dinner. It would be "Can you pass the guacamole? Oh... did I mention Bryan died last week?"
It's almost impossible to describe what it was like if you weren't there.
And I'm straight.
I'm filled with despair trying to wrap my head around what it was like for the gay community. I had friends who told me that they spent years in hospitals. Years. Not because they were sick, but because everybody they knew was sick or dying. I am aghast if I have to attend a funeral once a year. If you were an integral part of a large gay community, you might end up at a funeral every month.
Due to the AIDS epidemic, the 80's and early 90's were a tragic time of sadness and loss for a great many people.
As I said, I remember it very well. Too well.
Which is why reading this morning that President Trump's administration has removed $260 million from cancer research, HIV/AID prevention, and other programs is hard to take. AIDS hasn't gone away. AIDS is still here. I know people living with AIDS right now. There still is no cure for AIDS. And the minute we lose vigilance, it could explode all over again. Sure, AIDS is survivable now... it's not a guaranteed death sentence as it once was... but it's still a horrible disease which can have dire consequences. And we want to take money away from making sure it doesn't become a massive health crisis all over again? I don't get it. And if people aren't completely outraged, they don't get it either.
Towleroad published an article yesterday called Wasn't That Long Ago which collects tweets by Tucker Shaw about what it was like to lose somebody back in the day. And here it is in case you didn't know or have forgotten...
I overheard a young man on the train on the way home today, talking to another young man. Holding hands. In college, I guessed. About that age anyway. Much younger than I am. He was talking about AIDS, in a scholarly way. About how it had galvanized the gay community. How it had spurred change. Paved the way to make things better, in the long run.
The long run.
Maybe he’s right. I don’t know. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the theory. He spoke with clarity and with confidence. Youthful, full of conviction. But. Remember how terrible it was, not that long ago, during the worst times. How many beautiful friends died. One after the other. Brutally. Restlessly. Brittle and damp. In cold rooms with hot lights. Remember? Some nights, you’d sneak in to that hospital downtown after visiting hours, just to see who was around. It wasn’t hard. You’d bring a boom box. Fresh gossip. Trashy magazines and cheap paperbacks. Hash brownies. Anything. Nothing. You’d get kicked out, but you’d sneak back in. Kicked out again. Back in again. Sometimes you’d recognize a friend. Sometimes you wouldn’t.
Other nights, you’d go out to dance and drink. A different distraction. You’d see a face in the dark, in the back of the bar. Is it you? Old friend! No. Not him. Just a ghost. At work, you’d find an umbrella, one you’d borrowed a few rainstorms ago from a coworker. I should return it, you’d think. No. No need. He’s gone. It’s yours now. Season after season. Year after year.
One day you’d get lucky and meet someone lovely. You’d feel happy, optimistic. You’d make plans. Together, you’d keep a list of names in a notebook you bought for thirty cents in Chinatown so you could remember who was still here and who wasn’t, because it was so easy to forget. But there were so many names to write down. Too many names. Names you didn’t want to write down. When he finally had to go too, you got rid of the notebook. No more names.
Your friends would come over with takeout and wine and you’d see how hard they tried not to ask when he was coming home because they knew he wasn’t coming home. No one came home. You’d turn 24. When he’d been gone long enough and it was time to get rid of his stuff, they’d say so. It’s time. And you’d do it, you’d give away the shirts, sweaters, jackets. Everything. Except those shoes. You remember the ones. He loved those shoes, you’d say. We loved those shoes. I’ll keep those shoes under the bed.
You’d move to a new neighborhood. You’d unpack the first night, take a shower, make the bed because it’d be bedtime. You’d think of the shoes. For the first time, you’d put them on. Look at those shoes. What great shoes. Air. You’d need air. You’d walk outside in the shoes, just to the stoop. You’d sit. A breeze. A neighbor steps past. “Great shoes,” she’d say. But the shoes are too big for you. You’d sit for a while, maybe an hour, maybe more. Then you’d unlace the shoes, set them by the trash on the curb. You’d go back upstairs in your socks. The phone is ringing. More news.
The long run. Wasn’t that long ago.
No. No it wasn't that long ago.
To me it seems like it was only yesterday.
How long must it seem to the people running this country?
*The only joke I remember hearing him tell had something to do with a ferry rear-ending a sailboat in Puget Sound and now they both have AIDS. Yeah, hilarious.
**Many people still do, I'm sure.
***Though, if I'm being honest, I think I have better relationships with men. I'm not sexually attracted to men. I've never had sex with a man. But building a healthy relationship with women is apparently not something I'm built for because they never last. Even when the sex is great. Which is why I'm guessing I'm still single. Meanwhile, I've had non-sexual relationships with men whom I love on a near-spiritual level that have lasted decades. So... never say never, I guess. I've had sex with women whom I wasn't sexually attracted to, so maybe one day I'll meet the right guy and everything will change! If it happens, dear reader, you'll be the first to know.
Pull up on that pumpkin spice latte... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Boston! My beloved Red Sox are American League East champions for the third year in a row...
LET'S GO, BOSTON!
• The Last O.G.! I was watching... something... on TBS and saw a commercial for Tracy Morgan in The Last O.G.. As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of Tracy, I was excited to see it. Only to find out that it had already aired this past Spring...
It is phenomenal. Funny as hell. But touching too. I loved every episode and am relieved to find out that it has already been renewed for a second season. Highest possible recommendation. If you haven't seen it, please do yourself a favor and take a look.
• Believer! The last thing I would ever want to do is convict an innocent person for a crime they did not commit. That being said, Brett Kavanaugh is up for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. There is no walking this back. And since it makes no sense whatsoever that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford would invite a felony by lying to the FBI (or invite death threats towards her and her family), I think it's critical that an investigation be done. Especially now that more women have come forward. Anybody who thinks otherwise is either an asshole or wanting to serve a personal agenda over the good of this country...
I believe women. I believe in due process. I believe in innocence until proven guilty. I believe in justice. And I seriously question those who would sidestep any of that. Like the fucking piece of shit publisher of our local newspaper who equates rape to cheating at golf and smoking (you only think I'm joking). I don't expect people appointed to the Supreme Court to be perfect. They're human, after all. But I do expect them to not be rapists. Because no, not all boys do it, and rewarding this heinous behavior only propagates the rape culture that keeps creating new generations of rapists. It's got to finally end sometime. That time is now. Because time's up.
• Family! To all the single parents... to all the double dads... to all the double moms... to everyone who is trying to raise the best kid they can while listening to people scream "EVERY CHILD NEEDS A MOM AND A DAD!" over and over and over... know that you are exactly enough. Love alone makes a family. It always has...
I saw this meme floating through my Facebook feed and was reminded for the hundredth time that the people who think it's their business to stick their nose into other people's business are the ones most likely guilty of whatever it is they are professing to hate. So you do you. Everybody else is just doing the best they can with the cards they were dealt and don't deserve your stupid-ass judgement.
• Cold! This has got to be the most insane political commercial I've seen yet...
What kind of piece of shit do you have to be to have all your siblings not only not vote for you... but take out a devastating opposition ad to boot? Cold!
• Chewie! It's the little things that add up to make a good thing great. Nobody is more aware of this than Marvel Studios. In their new movie poster for Captain Marvel, people have been noticing a cat walking off-frame in the shadows. I took a look in there with Photoshop and, sure enough, there's a cat there...
This is undoubtedly meant to be Carol Danvers' cat, Chewie! Who is not actually a cat, but an alien species called "Flerken" which resemble and earth cat. He's a rather large part of the Captain Marvel comic books, having made several appearances...
Holy crap does Marvel know how to handle their characters. And now it's been confirmed that Kevin Feige will be overseeing The X-Men and The Fantastic Four in addition to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As it should have been all along! So long, FOX, your shitty, shitty, unbelievably shitty super-hero movies will not be missed.
And that's not all in Marvel news... rumor has it that Loki and The Scarlet Witch may be getting their own TV series on Disney's new streaming service. That will be fantastic, if it happens. But if I'm being honest? The character I most want to get a TV show is Hawkeye. If they were to base it on the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book run, it would be absolutely amazing.
And... I'm done with bullets for the day. I got things to do.
Time to remember the past and move forward... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Marker. My mom's marker finally arrived. I placed her remains on Thursday and the stone was set shortly thereafter...
Burial vaults used to be big cement things. Now they're tiny plastic! She barely fit! The guys at the cemetery helping me were incredibly kind a respectful, which was very much appreciated.
It still seems strange for her to be honored as a Vietnam veteran when she wasn't in combat, but the VA assures me that her service during wartime absolutely qualifies her for the honorarium. I think this means the American Legion will put a flag on her grave come Memorial Day? That would be nice.
• Obituary. After my mom was buried, I could finally send in her obituary. I was surprised that I was able to do the entire thing online. I didn't have to talk to anybody...
I picked a photo from our last trip together. She's sitting across from me at the five-star Victoria Falls Hotel Restaurant in Zimbabwe. Sure she's in a T-shirt, but what the heck. She was an adventurer. That's the kinda stuff she wore when tearing up the planet doing awesome shit.
A sidenote... The photo I used for my mother's obituary was taken exactly four years from the day I sent it in to the newspaper, and I didn't even know it until I saw the date stamp of the photo. Weird how things line up from time to time if you pay attention. Here's my blog entry from September 27th, 2014. Amazing how the universe works.
And so I guess that's it. The last thing to do in a long list of things to do so we can both move on. Or not...
• Memoriam. When I purchase a copy of our local paper today so I can see my mother's obituary in print, I will also be purchasing yet another opinion piece by the paper's publisher who previously compared rape to cheating at golf and smoking. Did he apologize for his flippant and tone deaf attitude? No. No he did not. He doubles down and says that men have nothing to be ashamed of... we were born this way, after all. Most of us are good guys, so the horrible way that women get treated is not our fault.
Then whose fault is it?
You're saying the toxic masculinity which permeates our society and is a constant and consistent threat to women is nothing to be ashamed of? Men can hold their heads high while women are harassed, humiliated, beaten, raped, and even killed? Are you serious?
The idea that men should just keep going on about their business while a society which endangers women is thriving is categorically absurd. Jeff Ackerman says we should just keep drinking from the milk carton, mowing the lawn, and ignoring rape culture because most of us are nice guys. It's nothing to do with us. Men should stick together against these evil women who want to be able to walk down the street at night without fearing for their life. Apparently that's what he considers "behaving like a man."
I call bullshit. Real men should be standing together with women to put an end to this. Real men should be actively dismantling toxic masculinity at every opportunity. Real men should be teaching their sons that being a man means being a partner to women, not dominating over them. Real men set an example by respecting women, cherishing women, valuing women, and supporting women. Real men work for a society where women are heard.
My mother was victimized by a man who professed to be her boyfriend... but she was never a victim. She picked herself up, pulled together the pieces of her life, then moved on the best she could. She loved her family. She served her country. She was kind to those she met. She worked hard. She traveled the world to understand it better. And her reward for having such courage? To be memorialized in a newspaper where the publisher says that what she went through is none of my concern because that's just the way men are.
My mom deserves better than that. I'm a better man that that. And society will be far better off when "old men" like Jeff Ackerman are gone.
• Love. And in yet another "Making History" segment... MIKE PENCE BECOMES FIRST VICE PRESIDENT TO ADDRESS ANTI-GAY SUMMIT — But I'm sure he was hating the homosexualizers with Christian Love® in Jesus® name... so it's all good. I mean... these "Christians" have branded their hate as "Christian Love®" so I'm assuming they've trademarked that. Oh... and Jesus® of course. Can't go having The Wrong People co-opting The Savior® can we? They might tell people to love everybody as He did instead of weaponizing His name to push an agenda. We can't be having THAT! Can you imagine? People coming together to love one another? Why, the notion! So silly! Christian Love® is reserved for those who believe EXACTLY LIKE PENCE DOES... and nobody else! Lord, what a piece of shit. Pence, Trump, and their entire administration is garbage. Way to represent all Americans.
• Political Climate. When given the choice from here on out, I am voting exclusively for progressive women candidates. I honestly do not give a single fuck's worth of thought to any of these old white men destroying this country. I'm voting all women, all persons of color, all LGBTQ, all ANYTHING but the status quo from here on out. These assholes had their chance. The future belongs to anybody but them. Because the only way we are going to get FAIR REPRESENTATION in government is to have ACTUAL REPRESENTATION IN GOVERNMENT.
And until next Sunday, when I'm sure there will be a whole new set of horrors to deal with, I bid you adieu.
Happy International Coming Out Day to my LGBTQ readers and friends!
Some of you walked through fire to get to where you are today. Some of you are dipping a toe into the flames before taking the plunge. Some of you bounded over the flames like a golden god. Some of you are happy to hang on to your fire extinguisher to keep the flames at bay a while longer. Many of you escaped the fire only to besieged with people lobbing more fire in your direction. But regardless of who you are... what your truth is... I am happy you're here, you wonderful fireproof warrior, you!
And now... time to clean up another round of cat puke. Poor Jake. I really thought he had turned a corner when he didn't throw up after yesterday morning. It was a lot less than last time though, so maybe he's nearing the light at the end of the tunnel?
Spent my weekend getting ready for winter, but it hasn't been all bad... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Jakespreading. My concern for Jake is either growing or easing depending on which minute of the day it is. On one hand, he is peeing regularly. On the other hand, it's too often... sometimes up to three times an hour. On one hand, he is pretty much back to normal. On the other hand, he has been increasingly clingy. Now he's sleeping with me every night. Which mostly looks like this...
He's sleeping next to me, using my leg as a pillow.
For the past two nights, sleeping beside me hasn't been good enough. He wants to sleep on top of me. Which is no biggie when I'm laying on my back but, given my recent back pains, I'm more comfortable on my side. He tries to climb on me but there's not enough room, so he falls off and starts getting upset. I fix the problem by leaning against a pillow. He falls asleep on the pillow (and against me), but is fooled to thinking he's sleeping on me. So it's all good, I suppose. But I think I'm going to start looking into some warm pads that might prove more tempting than a pillow. In the mornings when I come back from taking a shower, I always find him laying on the slats above the heating vent, so I'm guessing he might be in love with a warm place to lay just like his sister...
Tomorrow I'm going to place another call to his doctor so I can ask about the alarming number of times he's peeing... and to ask if I should be concerned that he's grooming his junk more often these past couple days. Call me paranoid, but I'd do just about anything to make sure he doesn't have another extended stay away from home.
• Who? First of all, I love Jodie Whittaker in the new season of Doctor Who. She is sublimely perfect in the role, and everything you could want for The Doctor she projects in spades. Quirky without being silly. Smart without being stuffy. Entertaining without being absurd. She IS Doctor Who...
Which is why my disappointment in her first episode being horribly boring was more upsetting than it usually would be. Things picked up a bit in the second episode that aired tonight (the new TARDIS is pretty great), but it still feels like a bit of a slog to get through. I really, really hope that things start picking up... giving both Whittaker and Doctor Who fans the show we deserve.
• Boca? When I was last at the grocery store, I noted that Boca Burgers have pretty new packaging. What surprised me is that the burgers inside are different. They are darker. And the taste is different. Not necessarily in a bad way... they're just... different. Still tasty...
What I cannot tell is what in the hell they are replacing. Used to be there was "Original Vegan" and "All-American Flame Grilled"... these are "Original All American," which I can only guess is taking the place of both? They ain't vegan (contains cheese like the All-American Flame Grilled) so maybe they are discontinuing those? Confusing.
• The Vote. LOLOLOL! Maria Cantwell just released a commercial saying that "drug companies are too powerful and prescription drugs cost too much money." Guess the blowback she got after accepting $75,000 from Big Pharma then voting against cheaper drug re-importation has her worried? Typical piece of shit politician... says whatever she feels she has to at the moment in order to get elected, and then she'll jettison it when she decides to suck Big Pharma dick for cash again. We get the politicians we settle for. We get what we deserve. Not that we're given much choice. My Washington State Voter's Pamphlet just arrived and there's only one candidate I actually want to vote for. The rest are just votes against Trump-enabling Republicans.
• Asshole. Vice President Pence would do best to just shut the hell up on all matters pertaining to anything because, odds are, his boss has tweeted something totally fucked up on the topic, which makes Pence come off as a hypocritical asshole. Like this...
Why the hell Pence pretends to give a shit about journalists when it's been made very clear that Trump's administration condemns journalists as an "enemy of the people" is beyond me. Disgusting and pathetic. Like most everything to do with President Trump.
• Groupon! Congratulations to Hasan Minhaj on becoming a father...
I can't wait for his show, Patriot Act, to debut on Netflix come October 28th! And, needless to say, if you have Netflix and haven't seen his incredible standup show, Homecoming King, you should do that immediately.
Annnnd... scene. See you next Sunday.
Like most everybody, I would prefer not paying taxes.
But the only way it all works is if everybody kicks in money so that things we rely on can continue to function. Like the fire department. Like our military. Like food inspectors. Like so many things that keep us safe and make sure the services we enjoy have the funding they need.
And so... we pay taxes.
The problem is that the way we are taxed is incredibly fucked up.
Our progressive federal tax scale means that the more money you make, the more money in federal taxes you pay. The base rate goes from roughly 10% for the poorest among us to roughly 40% for the wealthiest among us. Except... there are so many fucking loopholes and bullshit conditions to taxation that somebody who should be paying 40% can end up paying less than 10% if they are creative in their finances. Billionaires can easily pay nothing if they figure out a way for their income to be tied up in investments and shit.
Like I said, the system is incredibly fucked up.
Now, I don't pretend to be an economics genius or anything... but there has got to be a better way. Something more fair and honest. But since the billionaires control all the wealth (hence they control all the politicians making the tax laws), "a better way" will likely never happen. Instead we're getting even more tax cuts for the wealthy that are paid for by huge cuts to things like Medicare and Social Security that we have already fucking paid for along with critical services... like public education.
Personally, I am all for abolishing income tax of any kind and eliminating the IRS. Instead of income tax, the taxes we need will come from the shit you buy. This is called a "consumption tax" and, in my mind, seems a lot more fair than the bullshit we have now. Everybody pays the same consumption tax on absolutely everything except food and medical expenses. Buy a new fingernail clipper? Pay a little tax. Buy a fucking mansion? Pay a lot of fucking taxes. And no buying your fingernail clippers in France so you can avoid paying your consumption tax! Anything you bring into the country is immediately subject to taxation. Don't want to pay taxes? Don't buy anything.
In the meanwhile though...
Since I am paying an outrageous amount of federal income tax on every dollar I make, I try very hard to not pay sales tax. Any large purchase... like camera equipment... I purchase out of state so I don't have to pay taxes on it. At least I did...
I get it. Honestly I do. Washington State (which doesn't collect a state income tax) relies on sales tax to pay the bills. An astronomically high sales tax that's near 9%. So when I order a $1000 camera lens from B&H Photo in New York, Washington State is losing out on $90 in tax revenue.
A tax I'd be happy to pay if it weren't for all the other shit I'm taxed on. Hell, run it up to 20% for all I care... so long as you get rid of the IRS and my fucking income tax so we have a consistent, fair tax rate that everybody has to pay equally.
But what do I know? A consumption tax sounds fair and transparent to me, but maybe it's a dumb idea. Maybe a flat-tax is better. Maybe there's an alternative to taxes which will still allow us to pay for public safety, infrastructure, and defense that's far more fair than what we got. I really don't know and I honestly don't care. So long as we get rid of the fucked up insanity we're stuck with now.
Especially since I'll now be paying more taxes than ever before.
Especially since politicians are spending more tax revenue than ever before.
Especially since Americans are getting fucked over by our government worse than ever before.
Another weekend of winterizing, plus cleaning out my garage... but there's still a warm spot in my heart... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• BOSTON!!! Congratulations to my beloved Boston Red Sox as they head to The World Series!
And then there's this, which is pretty funny...
SUCK IT, YANKEES! BWAH HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!
• Sears. Five years ago, my local Sears store closed. As I mentioned at the time, Sears was a huge chunk of my childhood, as that's where my first PC was purchased (an Atari 800) and the games and software that I grew up with (viva la Infocom!) all came from there...
I drew this Atari 800 for the cover of Kevin Savetz's terrific book, Terrible Nerd!
So hearing that Sears is now in bankruptcy is met with a note of sadness for me. After all these decades, my local store is still ingrained in my memory. I remember everything about it. I remember exactly where the computer aisle was located. I remember what the display looked like. I remember the sound that the glass door made when it was unlocked to retrieve a box of software. I remember how excited I was when my family made a trip to Sears where I would immediately run to the computers to see what was new. That's how it was all done back in the 80's. The public internet didn't exist... certainly not like it is now. Computer magazines were always outdated the minute they were printed. There was pre-release information here and there, but I never really knew what was real until I saw it at Sears.
And now it's likely the entire chain will be gone forever. It's a tough hit to take, even though the only reason I'd ever shop there (if I even knew where to find one) was maybe for tools. Or appliances. Godspeed, Sears, you will always be in my heart.
• Owls. I've watched this too many times this past week...
Owls are such awesome creatures.
• Security! "Social Security, let’s lay it to rest once in for all... Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security trust fund. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing the budget or erasing or lowering the deficit."
Once more for the dumbfucks in the back... YOU FUCKING PAID FOR YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE! IT'S TAKEN OUT OF YOUR FUCKING PAYCHECK! So when gaping assholes like Mitch McConnell and other Republican crooks start talking about cutting these programs to cover tax cuts for the rich and out-of-control government spending, THEY ARE STEALING FROM YOU. I honest-to-God do not understand why anybody in their right mind continues to support these pieces of shit when they are openly committed to the destruction of the working middle class. They are for themselves (like all politicians) and their wealthy puppet-masters. And nobody else. So unless you are the 1%, voting for these turds is only cutting your own throat.
• Of Note. We live in hypocritical times...
It's been pretty wild to watch the MAGA crowd go from "Saudi Arabia is an evil regime and Hillary is working with them" to "so what if Saudi Arabia murders a journalist, he had it coming probably, and Saudi Arabia is giving us a lot of money for our weapons"— PeterNorway (@classiclib3ral) October 19, 2018
It’s been quite a day for people who think abortion is murder but insist that an actual murder is okay if the people responsible are spending $100 million on mass murder weapons— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) October 18, 2018
And, just in case there was any doubt whatsoever that Pat Robertson is a steaming pile of shit... here you go...
Excusing evil for lots of money in weapons sales, just like Jesus taught us!
And had it been a Christian journalist... a journalist from TBN... who was hacked apart with a bone saw? He would be calling for President Clownface VonFuckstick to nuke Saudi Arabia. This fucker cannot die fast enough. Not that I am unaware that there are dozens of assholes waiting to take his place, but still...
• Millennium.I liked the original Swedish movie trilogy based on the famous "Millennium Trilogy" of book... I *loved* the US adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was about as flawless as movies get. Daniel Craig was great... Rooney Mara was unbelievably great... she was Lisbeth Salander. Which is why I was really sad to learn that they would not be reprising their roles for the upcoming The Girl in the Spider's Web. Instead we're getting Claire Foy, which is not a terrible choice... but it's not Rooney Mara...
Fingers crossed. Lisbeth Salander is too good a character to be wasted.
And that's the end of bullets on this fine Sunday morning!
Early voting is in progress in many places around the country. Here in Washington State where we vote by mail, the ballots have been arriving for a week now. If you're lucky enough to get to vote early, you might want to check into that so you can avoid the madness of November 6th. Because these days it's more important than ever to let your voice be heard, especially at a time when assholes are working overtime to rob some of us of that right.
There are people have died for your right to vote, so listen to John Lewis and GO VOTE...
Assuming that you haven't been purged and are able to vote, that is.
It's a surprisingly beautiful day after a surprisingly nasty night, but the sun isn't the only ray of light to bless my day... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Humanity. If you visit Wikipedia's page on terrorist incidents worldwide, you'll notice something interesting. At first the list is by decade. Then by year. Then it's by half-year. Then it skips right past quarter-year and is listed by month. And it occurs to me that we may very well get to the point where it will be listed by week. At some point we will either escape from this downward spiral or destroy ourselves utterly...
With the murders at the Pittsburgh synagogue which, let's be honest, is a terrorist act as much as it's a hate crime, my hope for humanity is diminished yet again. At this point people may survive humanity... but I'm pretty sure actual humanity is headed towards extinction. There are bright spots to be sure... but the fact that somebody could enter into a place of worship (again) and murder multiple civilians (again) has me wondering if our inevitable extinction is something worth crying over. Look what we have become.
• Anecdotal. Case in point.
• Protections. The desensitization which our minds develop to protect our sanity from the horrific onslaught of non-stop tragedy in the world is failing me. Pittsburgh ended up being one of my favorite American cities. And nobody was more surprised by this than I was. I went there to visit the Hard Rock Cafe and was expecting some big dirty steel town backwater... only to find one of the most beautiful cities on earth with a city-culture that is uniquely Pittsburgh and wholly wonderful. Which is why the devastating attack on Pittsburgh's Jewish community which left 11 people dead and 6 people injured has hit me harder than I thought it would. My desensitization protections are failing me. Just as they did with the Boston Marathon bomber in another city I love. Just as New York. Just as London. Just as Paris. Just as in every city I've been to that I fall in love with. Which, as I'm just now realizing, is most cities I visit. And they're all fodder for political points more than they are the home of innocent people. Lord knows how my mind is supposed to protect itself now.
• Anecdotal. Case in point.
• Essential. Wow. Patriot Act is everything I dreamed it would be. And Hasan is starting out with a bang by examining Saudi Arabia and Affirmative Action in a way that few other people could...
Essential viewing. Essential.
• Anecdotal. Case in point.
• Privilege. Here we go again...
As a white guy, it's easy for me to say that I would have told this racist piece of shit to go fuck herself sideways, because I would totally do that. I have done that... and for far less. But I have that privilege. A white person can tell another white person to go fuck themselves and it usually doesn't result in somebody calling the police (so long as it doesn't turn violent). But if a Mexican were to do that? The cops would be called and they'd probably be arrested for assaulting a white lady. Or even shot. So if you're looking for a way to put your privilege to good use, stepping up and telling racists pieces of shit to go fuck themselves when they act like garbage towards minority persons minding their own business while trying to live their lives is a good start.
• Anecdotal. Case in point.
And now? I'd like to say I'm going out to enjoy this glorious day. But instead I'm going to work. Until next Sunday then!
I have voted for many Republicans over the years. Here in Redneckistan, you kind of have to for some positions because Seattle-side politicians don't give a crap about us after they get our votes. But President Trump is so abhorrent that not only did I NOT vote for a single Trump-enabling Republican like Dino Rossi... I take great joy in their defeat. Rossi was hardly an honorable politician, but that wasn't the deciding factor for me (are any of them?). It was Trump, only Trump, and it will always be Trump. Any party that would unleash this monster on the country will not be getting a single vote from me. And may never get a vote from me again.
Rossi would have most certainly voted in support of Mitch McConnell wanting to steal from our Social Security and obliterate Medicare, both of which we pay for. He would have definitely voted to increase our debt in favor of more misguided tax breaks for the über-wealthy that will never benefit working-class Americans (no matter what Republicans say). He probably would have voted for Trump's stupid wall which will ultimately do little-to-nothing to halt immigration or drugs, but would certainly destroy animal migration and the environments which animals live. And I'm fairly certain that he would have supported stopping Mueller's investigation of the horrendous accusations against our president (seriously, shouldn't we be 100% sure about this?). I'm not sure about supporting Dear Leader's insane tariff war, which is decimating American farmers and our exports. But it's a foregone conclusion he would sit idly by as Trump continues his shitty attacks on reporters, the environment, science, poor people, immigrants, Persons of Color, the LGBTQ community, non-Christians, logical thinking, and actual human decency. I'd like to think he would have drawn the line at condemning our allies and praising the enemies of The United States of America like Cheeto Jesus does, but you never know. President Trump is very quick to make enemies of Republicans who do not offer whole-hearted support and non-stop praise of every fucked-up thing he does.
Short-term power gains that Republicans get by enabling the heinous crap Trump says and does on a daily basis will ultimately continue pushing people like me further and further Left. There's just nowhere else for politically unaffiliated people like me to go and feel sane. Or be able to live with ourselves.
It's because of this that I hope the Republican party continues to erode from within because they 100% deserve it. And after they're gone we can work on getting rid of the Democratic party too. Perhaps then we can finally find a political system that works for the people instead of corporate lobbyists. Finally get a political system run by citizens instead of billionaire puppet masters. Finally smash this two-party system that is destroying all of us with corruption, divisiveness, and fear. We've let politicians make ourselves our own worst enemy for far too long. At some point we need to put differences aside and start confronting the REAL enemy. But will we?
Fortunately, it's not up to us, because what we have now is unsustainable. Change will ultimately be coming whether people want it to or not. The question is whether we'll be annihilated in the process. The way things are headed now, it certainly feels that way. We are just too lazy, uninformed, and easily manipulated... and content to remain that way.
In the meanwhile... chocolate cake for breakfast though, so I guess it's not all bad.
It may be cold outside, but a ray of warmth is headed your way today... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Happy Veteran's Day! To all those who served, thank you! Or should I say... "Never Forget"...
A part of me is thrilled that Lt. Commander Crenshaw appears to be the kind of Republican we so desperately need... but, alas, that may not be the case. Regardless, I am most grateful for his service, and respect the sacrifice he made for our country. That kind of dedication and loss most definitely does not deserve to be mocked in any capacity, and I'm thankful that Pete Davidson and Saturday Night Live at least tried to do the right thing after doing a very wrong thing.
• Warm Places. A reminder. If you park your car outside, stray cats looking for a warm place might be taking shelter under your hood. Banging on your hood before you start your car gives them an opportunity to escape before they get seriously hurt...
I can't find anybody to credit this photo. I think it came from Russia?
I do what I can to provide warmth and shelter for the cat that wanders around my neighborhood... but still worry about him every night as it gets colder and colder. I don't even know how to wrap my head around all the poor animals trying to survive without help every year.
• Welcome to Congress. Barry Blitt's cover for the upcoming issue of The New Yorker is wonderful...
A government that represents all the people? We can only hope. One day.
• Piglet. I saw this commercial while catching up with television...
Pigs are the sweetest animals.
• Triumph. I watched Beto O’Rourke's run for The Senate in Texas very closely. Partly because I positively loathe his opponent Ted Cruz and everything the asshole stands for. But mostly because O'Rourke has said some things that really resonate with me. Like this...
It was highly unlikely that Beto was going to win. Texas is insanely Red, and them giving a Senate seat to a Democrat was a long-shot at best. And yet... he O'Rourke did surprisingly well. Much better than I would have guessed at 48% of the vote to Cruz's 51%. Alas, a loss is a loss, and now the USA has to live with six more years of one of the biggest pieces of shit in American politics.
Even so, there was high entertainment to be found in this race thanks to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog...
I can't fathom how Ted Cruz got to where he is... even in Texas. He's just awful. Surely Texas could have found a better Republican than this? Apparently he's an amazing lawyer, but shouldn't that be a strike against him with Republicans? A fancy-pants Princeton/Harvard Lawyer? I have no clue.
• LOL. White people be like...
I laughed at this a lot harder at this than I probably should have.
And that's the last of my bullets for this fine Sunday.
Stan Lee, co-creator of a huge chunk of the Marvel Comics Universe... and Douglas Rain, the iconic voice of HAL 9000 (the onboard computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey), have died.
This was already a tough day for me.
When it comes to being absolutely terrified by a movie, there is no film that compares to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not for me, anyway. And it all comes down to that one riveting exchange where HAL refuses to let Dave back on the ship. Until I saw this scene while watching the movie on VHS videotape back in the early 80's, I had always thought of computers and robots as fantastical, wonderful inventions here to make our lives better. Then here comes HAL 9000, whose psychopathic method of self-preservation dictates that he straight-up murder the crew.
This could have been a comical situation. Especially given the dialogue HAL is speaking. But the way Douglas Rain delivered HAL's lines in such a cold, detached manor was horrifying...
"Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult." — I mean, holy shit!
In the sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, we find out that it wasn't HAL's fault that he went crazy. Humans were ultimately responsible... but that movie came out three years later, so it wasn't much consolation to me watching in 1981!
For years I had HAL as the ringtone on my iPhone. One of the many benefits to being named "Dave." I doubt that would have ever happened if not for the vocal talents of Douglas Rain.
And then there's Stan Lee...
Amazing Art by J. Scott Campbell
When I first started reading comics, I was mostly a DC Comics guy. That's where Batman was, and he was hands-down my favorite comic book character. But eventually (as my allowance increased) I was expanding into Marvel Comics more and more. My "gateway drug," as it were, was Doctor Strange. His surreal adventures were unlike anything happening at DC, and it was a quick hop from there to my reading other Marvel titles like The Avengers, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and whatever other team books I could afford (team books, you see, had more heroes in them, so it felt like more bang for my buck than solo titles).
Stan Lee co-created all of them.
And many, many more.
But his prolific comic writing output was almost incidental compared to his being the "face" of Marvel Comics. His rampant enthusiasm for their books in letter columns and his Stan's Soapbox column were the stuff of legend. He made you want to read comics.
As if that wasn't enough? He was also a wonderful man. Here's one of his most famous Stan's Soapbox columns...
Even if you're not a comic book fan, odds are you've seen Stan in one of his many Marvel Studios Movie cameos...
Or on one of his many, many television appearances...
The guy was legendary, and will be missed by a great many people. Thank you, Stan Lee.
Excelsior, True Believer!
Last night as I went to bed with the California wildfires fresh in my mind and the smell of burning orchard brush filling the valley, my own experience with a wildfire threatening my home* came rushing back to me. Rather than try and battle that demon again, I took sleeping pills and waited for the world to go away.
When I woke up, I went through the news and saw that even more homes had been lost in California. There were a surprising number of stars in the list. Miley Cyrus & Liam Hemsworth, Gerard Butler, Robin Thicke, Shannen Doherty, and Scott Derrickson all lost their homes. Loads more famous people had to evacuate (it's as if Mother Nature doesn't give a fuck if you have your own reality show or whatever!). I feel horrible for everybody involved... and even more horrible for the poor animals who have been displaced. There's enough suffering in the world.
Yesterday when I showed up at the tire shop for my 2:30 appointment to get my winter tires put on, I was told that 50 people were ahead of me. Apparently they had a computer bug that allowed people to keep making appointments even though no slots were available. I pushed for a new appointment this morning, which meant I ended up heading back into The Big City.
That's when I got the news that my snow tires are nine years old, which means this is the last season they can be used. Apparently you're not allowed to have 10-year-old tires on your car, regardless of how much tread is left on them. This is a colossal bummer, because my tires look practically new. Then again, it's recommended that you get your tires replaced after six years, so I guess I should be grateful I got to use them for as long as I did. They were purchased for my mom, so I bought the best I could afford at the time. Maybe that's what gave them a decade of life? Probably. If there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that you get what you pay for.
And so... something new and expensive for me to buy next year! Yay.
Then my fun really began.
Today was the day I finally decided to rip apart my work iMac so I could replace the internal "Apple Fusion" drive with a shiny new 100% SSD drive. I was terrified to make the attempt because Apple no longer uses strong magnets to keep the computer together... they use glue tape! You have to use a special tool to literally cut through the adhesive, remove the glass display, then glue everything back together once you replace the drive.
Turns out it wasn't a big deal at all. The kit I purchased from Other World Computing made it fairly easy, and they have videos you can watch to explain everything.
Except... apparently when you install macOS X on an external boot drive, you cannot then just pop it inside and have it work as an internal boot drive. Which meant I had to reformat, re-install, and re-load everything. Again. There's six hours of my life I ain't getting back.
And six hours work I have to make up for tonight.
Looks like I'll be able to burn through another couple Hallmark Christmas Movies on my DVR. Or not. There's a show on Amazon Prime Streaming called Patriot that I'm interested in giving a watch. It's actually just started its second season. Apparently I missed it when it debuted last year...
The show looks very funny. And very disturbing. I guess that would make it "disturbingly funny" then?
I hope so. Given the state of the world just now, "disturbingly funny" is right up my alley.
*Back in September 1992, the hillside behind my apartment building caught fire. It spread so fast that the evacuations followed in short order. I didn't evacuate. I stayed behind with a downstairs neighbor to put out the fires that were starting as embers blew onto the building and the yard surrounding it. After a while, my neighbor left. I was alone, on the roof, using a garden hose to home down the flames that kept popping up.
Eventually the fire department came and I was forced to evacuate. I grabbed a photo album, my laptop, and an armload of clothes as I left, not knowing if I would have a home to come back to. Thanks to the firefighters (who later told me that they felt obligated to save my home after I had spent the entire day battling for it), I did end up having a home to come back to.
My lungs never recovered. I still have respiratory problems after all these years. And sometimes I wake up swearing I smell smoke when there is no smoke. I know it's in my head, but it feels real.
December is here and you shopping days are numbered. But don't despair... because the greatest gift of all is here! Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Cap! I didn't think it was possible for me to want to see Captain Marvel more than I already did... but then this poster was released...
UPDATE: And then the second trailer was released...
And holy crap am I dying to see it now!
• SO CUTE! And now I want kittens! Again!
But... Jake and Jenny are plenty of cats in my house, so I'll just have to keep watching YouTube videos like this.
• A Catch! Speaking of cats and YouTube... my current obsession is watching cats catching fish videos...
Amazing. I don't know why I always thought that fish were an unnatural food for cats. Something that we humans got them addicted to. Maybe because most cats don't like water? But now that I've seen it? Makes perfect sense.
• Becoming! I purchased the audiobook of former First Lady Michelle Obama's Becoming because I wanted the experience of having her read it to me. I'm half-way through and it does not disappoint...
Of course Obama-haters were going to crap all over her no matter what she wrote... and people hoping for dirt will be better-served elsewhere... but I enjoyed going behind the scenes of her life from her own perspective. Mrs. Obama's ability to advocate for hope is inspiring, and I found her words was a welcome distraction.
• IN THE NEWS! "REPUBLICAN SENATORS WHO TRIED TO KILL YEMEN WAR RESOLUTION WERE PAID BY SAUDI LOBBYISTS" — We truly do have the best government money can buy. This is fucking disgraceful. For the life of me, I don't understand why Americans aren't rioting in the streets over this bullshit.
• A Man Called Ove! I've seen this remarkable Swedish film four times now. I think I love it more with each viewing...
I honestly don't know how to feel about Tom Hanks doing an American remake. Usually Americanizing a foreign film doesn't bode well, but... Tom Hanks. I want so badly for it to be good. If, for no other reason, that Americans who don't like watching films with subtitles will get to see this terrific story.
And that's the end of that. Fun times await me, as I'm flying out tonight.
The weather outside may be frightful, but there's warmth to be had... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Stranger Strange! It was announced earlier this week that Scott Derrickson will be returning for the sequel to Doctor Strange, which is fantastic news considering how amazing the first one turned out...
There are dozens of different directions that a new story might take. Baron Mordo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is almost certain to be the villain. Or one of the villains anyway. Since magic-based characters in the MCU are scarce, they wouldn't necessarily have to go off-earth in order to come up with something wildly different, but some kind of inter-dimensional aspect to the plot is probably a safe bet. But what else? Will we get to see Mephisto? Clea? Umar? Nightmare?
• Julia Sans Julie! Did you know that somebody edited out all the horrible Julie Powell parts from Julie and Julia? Well they did! And it's so much better...
Makes me wish that they would have just made a Julia Child movie from the start. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were magic, and Julia's story is a fascinating one. Thanks to Run Jen Run for the tip!
• Musical Guest! Talk about lighting in a bottle. Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus (along with Sean Ono Lennon) performed the classic John Lemmon track Happy Xmas (War Is Over) on Saturday Night Live last night...
I've been a big Miley fan since I first saw her on Hannah Montana. She has an incredible voice... in and out of the studio... and, crazy antics aside, she knows how to sing. She's especially great at interpreting other people's music (as the above video shows). One of my favorites remains her beautiful take of the Crowded House song Don't Dream It's Over with Ariana Grande...
Can't wait to see what she's got lined up next.
• Echo! "Alexa, what song is this?"
"This is Good Time featuring Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson from the album Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson."
"HOLY SHIT, ALEXA! ENOUGH WITH GOOD TIME FEATURING OWL CITY AND CARLY RAE JEPSON!"
"Now playing Good Time featuring Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson from the album Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson."
"Well played, Alexa. Well played."
• Don't Look Here, Look There! It's always the people with fucked up shit in their closet that goes after the LGBTQ community. Always. You can set your clocks by it. Whenever I see somebody "railing against the gays" I just set an egg-timer until the news drops about them going to prison for something heinous. Then a Facebook friend shared this...
There's a reason that there are people who are virulently attacking people who have nothing to do with them. Set your egg timers.
Stay warm there, buckaroos.
I know that having to skip a Bullet Sunday for my year-end wrap-up was tough, but don't despair... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Bandersnatch! This past week all the internet buzz revolved around Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix's new "Choose Your Own Adventure" movie. As the movie played you would be presented with choices which determined how the rest of the movie would progress...
Any guesses as to which music I picked?
This novelty alone would be pretty lame. Unless the story was really terrific, why would you want to replay it over and over to see how your choices affect things? But this is Black Mirror, and they took their excellence to another level here. First of all, the story itself addressed the idea of free will vs. control... and completely breaks the fourth wall by going meta with the concept in some story branches. It was really well done, and I ended up playing through several different scenarios to see where the story would land. Once I had gotten through the major different branches, the differences became more and more subtle, so I ended it. I'm told there are some other stories that are more hidden, but time time required to find them was too much for me. Overall, I loved Bandersnatch! It took full advantage of the concept, the performances were great, and I was entertained throughout. My only criticism was that I could play on my AppleTV (which was incompatible) and ended up having to watch on my computer. Other than that? Well worth your time to check out!
• Magic! Every once in a while, Disney's magic extends to their advertising. That's definitely the case with this wonderful ad that was airing for Disneyland Paris...
And now I want to go to Disneyland.
• Good News! If you're a little depressed with how 2018 ended up (Lord only know I am), here's the link for you: I’m Honestly Fed Up With All The Bad News So I Illustrated The Best News Of 2018 (And Recent Years).
And for all those people buying into President Trump's claim that the Mueller Probe is wasting tax dollars, here's more good news: Mueller Probe Cost $25 Million So Far, Report Says. It’s Pulled in $48 Million From Tax Cheats. It's paying for itself (and then some) as well as ripping into political corruption. What's not to like?
• Micropenis! I never suspected that Tucker Carlson has a tiny, minuscule, impotent, wee little penis... but here he is telling everybody about it. Study after study has shown that men who are threatened by women who make more money than them have tiny dicks... and who am I to question science?
What a pathetic, sexist, whiny, tragic, little pissant Tucker Carlson is. The amount of sublime ignorance as to how modern relationships work here is stunning. And yet, there are people believing this bullshit and faux science, so I'd imagine Tucker Carlson isn't going to be out of work any time soon.
• SCANDAL! Oooooh! Here it is! A SCANDALOUS video of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was just released from her school years! I wonder what it is? Sex with animals? Doing drugs? DOING DRUGS WHILE HAVING SEX WITH ANIMALS? My gawd... what a totally reprehensible role model. SHE SHOULD RESIGN IN SHAME!!!
Seesh. From they way some conservatives are (over)reacting, you'd think that she grabbed somebody by the genitals without consent... or cheated on her spouse with a porn star and tried to cover it up... or was defending white nationalists... or hiding her tax returns. The hypocrisy is blinding.
• Roller Kingdom! There was a time I wanted to be addicted to roller skating instead of crack too. But times change...
Alas, the local roller rink was torn down ages ago here, so I guess crack it is!
• Portland! Trying to end on a happy note, this is painfully accurate... and funny...
I miss having work trips to Portland. It is really terrific city.
Stay frosty, everybody.