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WandaVision Visions

Posted on February 5th, 2021

Dave!I've made no bones about my disappointment over the slow burn of Marvel Studio's first series to land on Disney+, WandaVision. It started as a 50's sitcom version of The Dick VanDyke Show, became a 60's episode version of Bewitched, then took a jump into the 70's by looking like something out of The Brady Bunch, and currently they've become an 80's sitcom version of Family Ties or maybe Growing Pains. These are not all the influences of what Wanda has created, but you get the idea...

Wanda and Vision in an 80's sitcom.

Along the way we got a peek into what's happening in The Real World in fourth episode. That's when things finally got moving, and we started to understand what's happening.

Now we're at the fifth episode and the implications are huge. Since there's finally something to talk about, I'm doing just that in a spoiler-filled extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Cheez-It’s After Midnight

Posted on January 29th, 2021

Dave!Boy, losing Cloris Leachmen and Cicely Tyson in the same week? That's a sobering way to close out January after closing out the shit year that was 2020.

Last night I blew all my energy dishing up Jake and Jenny's wet food, leaving me no energy to cook for myself. I had eaten a veggie burger early in the day while running errands, so it wasn't a big deal. I ended up eating some Cheez-It's and drinking a Coke Zero then calling it good.

Which of course meant that I woke up hungry in the middle of the night.

Which resulted in my eating another handful of Cheez-It's, but I digree.

The problem with waking up in the middle of the night is that it also wakes my cats up. They are perfectly happy to let me sleep and rarely bother me when I'm lost in slumberland, but all bets are off if I wake them up. First Jenny wanted pets. Then Jake wanted pets. Then Jenny came back again for more pets. According to my Apple Watch, I finally fell asleep again after 2:30am. Was that handful of Cheez-It's worth it? Probably not.

Four-and-a-half hours later when I was awakened by Alexa so I could feed them breakfast, I noticed that THEY weren't the least bit tired. I guess when you spend the entire day sleeping, you always have surplus energy.

In other news... I stayed up 'til midnight so I could watch the latest episode of WandaVision, where things are finally starting to happen. It only took four episodes, but okay. It wasn't necessarily great, but it does hint that great things are coming. If you've already seen it and are interested in my spoiler-filled thoughts, you can find them in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Bullet Sunday 697

Posted on January 17th, 2021

Dave!Don't let the Wintertime blues get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Betty! As somebody who loved Betty White long before it was cool, I am thrilled to wish her a happy 99th birthday today!

Me with an autographed photo of Betty White.

Betty's last work was reprising her role as the voice of "Bitey White" from Toy Story 4 in 2019. Wisely, she has quarantined herself against the pandemic so as to stay safe throughout 2020. I sure as heck hope that there's some televised special featuring the legions of stars who she's worked with over the years on the occasion of her 100th birthday.

   
• It Worked! This is the best thing I found on the internet this past week... and it's from August 2019...

Man sitting behind the wheel of a big fire truck... the caption is: Ever since i was a little kid i’ve always wanted to get on a fire truck. i’m tempted to just walk my grown ass over to a fire station and just ask.

Live your dreams, people. The guy in the photo is Abdul, an astrophotographer with some incredible images on his Twitter feed.

   
• Public Record? “I believe we will find that there’s going to be a huge hole in the historical record of this president because I think there’s probably been serious noncompliance of the Presidential Records Act.”Because the first thing a totally innocent person does is destroy evidence, right?

   
• WandaVision! Last Thursday night I stayed up for the midnight release of WandaVision's first two episodes on Disney+. While they are obviously building towards something, both of them seemed like a waste of time. If I wanted to watch cheesy old black-and-white TV shows, I'd tune in to Nick at Night (or whatever). The first episode was only 20 minutes of actual show (the second was closer to 30), and they STILL felt too long. If the setup is that Wanda is mentally trapped in old TV shows, they could have crammed all that in the first episode and moved on to the ACTUAL show after. As it is, it just seems like senseless padding. So I dunno.

Vision and Wanda in black-and-white sitting in a 50's sitcom.

Maybe as they go deeper into the story these episodes will feel worth it. But right now? Not really.

   
• NEWSFLASH! Footprints Lead to Missing Hikers Lost on California Mountain for 5 Days. I'm just going to put this right here as a reminder... if you go hiking without a LifeStraw... even if it's just supposed to be a simple day hike that you've done a hundred times before... you may very well be risking your life. Anything can happen. You can go a fairly long time without food. You can't last long at all without water. LifeStraw can turn even a muddy puddle into water that won't kill you. Indeed, it could be a puddle that saves your life. Amazon has LifeStraw available for $15 right here.

   
• Magical? Magic Spoon low-carb, no-grain cereal is practically tasteless... when I first tried it, I thought I had The COVID because I couldn't taste anything. I will not be ordering again. Except the shit was SO expensive, that I've been trying to eat it all so I'm not wasting money. But the biggest issue I have... even more so than the lack of taste? It's their stupid fucking boxes. They sell the cereal direct. There's no need to glue the thin-as-paper box so heavily that there is NO WAY to open them without ripping them to shit. On my fourth box I was even trying to use a knife so I could open it without tearing anything. NOPE! The glue is actually HEAVIER THAN THE DAMN BOX MATERIAL. Why? It's not like it's sitting on a shelf somewhere! They really don't need to use glue on the lid AT ALL since the bags are sealed and it's going direct to consumers! This is the stupidest damn thing, and I just don't get it.

Boxes of Magic Spoon cereal which have been ripped to shit trying to get them open.

It's almost as if Magic Spoon is saying "FUCK YOU! HA HA HA! JUST TRY TO GET THE FUCKING BOX OPEN IN ONE PIECE!!!" Which is an interesting tact to take when your cereal is this bland. I mean, I never expected it to taste like sugar cereal, but dang. Artifical flavors are cheap. Try adding some.

   
Have a great rest of your Winter, everybody.

   

Bullet Sunday 692

Posted on December 13th, 2020

Dave!I'm set adrift on memory bliss... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Star Wars on Disney+! There were loads of announcements at Disney’s Investor Day 2020 event, and there was a lot of gold to be found for pop culture geeks like me. So let's dig in, shall we?

Star Wars Series Posters for Disney+

  • Ahsoka. The reason Rosario Dawson was tapped to play Ahsoka in The Mandalorian is because they very obviously wanted to spin her off in her own show... and here we are. A fan-favorite from the cartoons, she worked really well in a live-action series, and I can't wait to see where they go with her character.
  • Rangers of the New Republic. The second spin-off from The Mandalorian, I have no idea what this will be about. But the fact that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are producing it (and Ahshoka) leads me to believe it will be more Star Wars excellence. That all three of their shows will cross over at some point is intriguing.
  • Andor. One of the few Star Wars movies past The Empire Strikes Back that I enjoyed is Rogue One, and a huge part of why I liked it so much is Diego Luna's Cassian Andor and Alan Tudyk's K-2SO. The fact that Disney wisely decided to give them a prequel series is great news.
  • Lando. The other movie past The Empire Strikes Back that I enjoyed was Solo. And the reason why was becaues Donald Glover's take on Lando Calrissian was =chef's kiss= perfection, and I sincerely hope that he's involved in the show. Otherwise, what's the point?
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi. I loathed the prequel trilogy, but greatly enjoyed Ewan McGregor's take on the iconic character. Exiled to Tatooine where he can watch over Luke Skywalker from a distance, I can only imagine that Obi-Wan will be called off on some grand adventure, because Hayden Christensen is returning as Darth Vader in the series.
  • The Acolyte. Well this was unexpected... Leslye Headland getting a new series which takes place in the "High Republic" era? How did that happen? Needless to say, I'm intrigued. The "High Republic" is the golden age of the Jedi back when they were revered and at the height of their power and influence. Hundreds of years before the trilogy of trilogies. Who wouldn't want to see that?
  • Droid Story. R2-D2 and C-3PO are joined by a new droid hero for a new (I'm guessing animated) story.
  • Visions. This is a series of short films crafted by some of the best Japanese anime creators. The idea is almost too good to be true if you've seen any of the anime Star Wars projects that have popped up over the years.
  • The Bad Batch. Another cartoon coming out of The Clone Wars which may prove to be interesting... or could drag out the Clone Force 99 concept to a poor end. I'm hoping for the former, and with Dave Feloni in charge I'm hopeful.

   
• Star Wars Movies! While there were some parts of the sequel trilogy that were okay, the movies as a whole were disappointing. A mediocre rehashing of far better stories that had already been told. And nobody was sadder about that than me. Then The Mandalorian came along and suddenly I was thinking that perhaps Disney+ was the best future for Star Wars. Until... Taika Waititi was brought onboard to create a new movie and I was excited again. No details have been released on that, but we did find out that Patty Jenkins (of Wonder Woman fame) is developing Rogue Squadron about the best of the best X-Wing fighter pilots, and I am understandably intrigued by the possibilities...

"The greatest fighter pilot movie of all time?" Um, yeah. Sign me up!

   
• Marvel Studios on Disney+! Boy oh boy were there a smorgasbord of tidbits dropped about upcoming Marvel shows on Disney+... and announcements of entirely new shows we hadn't heard of before...

Marvel Disney+ Series Posters

  • WandaVision. Wanda's mental breakdown after the death of The Vision is straight out of the comic books. The previews from the live-action take on the material looks like it's going to be interesting... if not over-the-top oddball strange. I have no idea if this will be any good, but I'm certainly hoping so.
  • The Falcon and The Winter Soldier looks to be far more in the ballpark of what I want to see out of Marvel Studios. Fingers crossed.
  • Loki. Well, well, well. Now we know what this series will be about... Loki falling afoul of some kind of temporal space/time regulatory agency. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it looks interesting enough that I'll definitely be tuning in.
  • Hawkeye. It's been rumored that the upcoming Disney+ series will be based on the Matt Fraction and David Aja series of the same name... one of the greatest comic book stories of all time. And now we know the rumors are true, as we're getting a lot of images of Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop. All I can do is hope that it does the source material justice.
  • Ironheart. In the comic books, child genius Riri Williams builds her own Iron Man armor and has her own adventures. Now we're getting a live-action version of the same. Not sure if they will skew this one towards a younger audience or not, which I think would be a mistake.
  • Armor Wars. After playing guest shots in many Marvel Studios films, Rhodey is finally getting a series all his own after the Iron Man technology falls into the wrong hands. Don Cheadle is back in what seems like it will be an action-packed show, which is all you can hope for.
  • She-Hulk. We finally get confirmation that Mark Ruffalo's Hulk will be appearing alongside Tatiana Maslany's She-Hulk, so at least they are taking things seriously. Absolutely no idea which way they will take this, but the comic books have so many ideas as to how things could be approached that there's no excuse for doing something deserving of the material.
  • Moon Knight. No confirmation that Oscar Isaac will be taking the role, as rumored, which is a shame considering how perfect he would be for the part.
  • Ms. Marvel. In addition to Kamala Khan getting her own series, we've also learned that she will be appearing in Captain Marvel 2 along with Monica Rambeau. I don't really know how this will work given how odd her stretchy powers are, but it does bode well that she's going to be a part of something bigger in the MCU.
  • Secret Invasion. Finally. Samuel L. Jacson's Nick Fury and Ben Mendelsohn’s Skull Talos get their own series! Secret Invasion was a Marvel Universe-spanning comic book arc, so I'm not exactly sure how they will be able to adapt it with just two players... but maybe they aren't? Maybe anybody who's anybody will be making guest appearances? How cool would that be? Since Sam has been in all their movies, the least they can do is return the favor. And hopefully Samuel L. Jackson will be making calls to Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in order to get them to drop by for Skrull guest appearances!
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. James Gunn is working on this one, which is going to shoot at the same time as Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3. If it's taken seriously, I'm excited for it. If not... and we're going to get some kind of farce in the vein of The Star Wars Holiday Special... I wish they just wouldn't.
  • I Am Groot. A series of shorts featuring Groot which we don't know if they are going to be actual stories... or some kind of breaking-the-fourth-wall anthology (like the Forky shorts that came out of Toy Story 4).
  • What If?. Now that I've seen the beautiful animation they've created for this series of stories which might have happened had circumstances unfolded differently than they did... including What If Peggy Carter Became Captain America and What If T'Challa Became Star Lord... I am really, really looking forward to this series.

   
• Marvel Studios Movies! Now that we're a year behind where we are supposed to be thanks to the pandemic, there's future news to be had to tide us over, I guess...

Marvel Movie Posters

  • Black Panther II. We have confirmation that Marvel will not be recasting T'Challa after the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman, which is as it should be. But after Shuri herself, Letitia Wright, came out as a full-blown anti-vaxer and conspiracy theory dumbass on her social media, I find myself wishing that they would just not do anything more with Black Panther until the inevitable MCU reboot a decade from now. Let Okoye and Nakia appear in other movies... give them their own series (along with W'Kabi, HINT HINT HINT!)... but just let Black Panther Rest In Peace.
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania. Peyton Reed is back for a third film, which was great news... but the big news was that Jonathan Majors has been confirmed as Kang the Conqueror! As one of the MCU's most powerful villains, it will be interesting to see if his appearance here will lead to the next big event for the movies.
  • Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. The first movie was good, but was mired in origin story stuff that didn't really get us the Doctor Strange we have been dying to see. THAT came in Infinity War and it was glorious. Now we are getting a sequel which will be exactly what we've been hoping for: a real Doctor Strange movie. Plus Scarlet Witch. Plus Mordo. Plus Wong. Plus Dr. Palmer. Plus America Chavez(!). Plus maybe even Spider-Man (because Doctor Strange will be in the next Spider-Man movie). And while it's upsetting that Scott Derrickson won't be back to direct, I choose to see Sam Raimi stepping in as a good thing, even though I really wanted to see the horror movie that Derrickson was promising us.
  • Fantastic Four. After three utterly shitty FF movies from FOX, we're finally... finally... going to get a proper Marvel Studios movie. And it's going to be directed by Jon Watts! We know nothing more about it, but if there's any hope at all of us getting something good, Marvel is the way it's going to happen.
  • Shang-Chi. No real news... but we did get confirmation that Michelle Yeoh will be in it, which is all I need to know.
  • Captain Marvel 2. What this movie will entail is a mystery. Given that she's one of the most powerful characters in the entire MCU, it's difficult to have earth-based adventures with her that can make much sense. Anything that's cosmic enough in scope to be a worthy adversary would surely attract the attention of every hero on earth and not just Carol Danvers. My guess is that it's a space adventure of some kind, but given that it's going to have Kamala Khan in it makes me wonder. Monica Rambeau will undoubtedly be getting her Photon powers (if she doesn't already get them in WandaVision), so she could certainly go cosmic, so anything's possible I suppose.

   
• Disney-Pixar! New movies Raya and the Last Dragon, Encanto, Iwaju, Luca, Lightyear, and Turning Red. New series for Disney+ built around Zootopia, Baymax, Tiana, Moana, and Cars. But the only news I really cared about was Dug Days, which looks fantastic...

Perfect.

   
• Alien! In one of the bigger surprises, Noah Hawley is creating an Alien series for Hulu?

Alien Poster.

All we know is that it will be set here on earth, and is supposed to be scary. Good enough for me.

   
• Kiss! Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair recreated their kiss from Cruel Intentions for the 2020 MTV Movie Awards...

Just makes me want to watch the movie all over again.

   
• Rook! My dad taught me how to play chess when I was fairly young. It wasn't really a game I was interested in, so I never played it much. In high school I'd play an occasional game for something to do, but I didn't really care enough to study so I was never terribly good. During my gap year I had a new found interest in the game and started playing via the internet. I got fairly good, read a few books on chess theory, and could hold my own by the time I started college. I haven't played a game since. It was for this reason I had decided to skip The Queen's Gambit when it debuted on Netflix. But the reviews were so stellar that I ended up watching it the following week...

The Queen's Gambit Poster

It's a really good series. The acting is excellent and the way they communicate the strategy and energy of the game is terrific. But the best part is the production values. They are exceptional. They've recreated the 1960's right down to the last detail, and I ended up watching parts of it again last night just to look at the appliances, automobiles, dishware, music, clothing, and all the other things which made it such an experience to watch. If you've got a Netflix subscription and haven't seen it, I'd recommend giving it a look.

   
• Interview! I was Leah's guest on her podcast Finding Favorites where I talk about travel (my favorite thing) and you can listen to it right here. I really need to get a better microphone for things like this.

   
And that's an end to my bullets, Sunday.

   

Bullet… MONDAY?!?

Posted on September 21st, 2020

Dave!No, your eyes are not deceiving you. So much stuff happened yesterday and today that I'm having back-to-back bullet posts. So sit back and enjoy... because an all new Bullet Sunday Monday starts... now...

   
• Watch! My new Apple Watch Series 6 arrived in the time-frame Apple actually promised (which was not expected given their track record). It's bigger than the Waze Band I had been "training" myself to wear, but I think I'll do okay. I just wish they could find a way to slim the thing down so it doesn't look and feel so massive when you have skinny arms like I do. Because, seriously, this is the small watch...

Apple Watch Series 6 looking big on my puny arm.

The height is just so offensively big. How about your big "feature" for Series 7 is a thinner watch, Apple...

Apple Watch Series 6 looking big on my puny arm.

I have many, many thoughts already (the first being HOLY CRAP! THE BLACK BAND IS NOT BLACK AND THE GREY COLOR IS NOT THE SAME COLOR TONE AS THE SPACE GREY WATCH?!? WTF, APPLE?!?), so a blog post will land in a day or two.

   
• Make Mine Marvel! The first trailer for WandaVision dropped and it looks pretty bonkers. Like they're channeling Leave it to Beaver and Bewitched or something. In the comics, The Scarlet Witch has reality-warping powers that haven't found their way into the MCU movies, but it looks like all that's about to change...

Two things. First, they have made the character costumes from the comic books into Halloween costumes or something, which is a nice nod to the source material for fans...

Wanda, The Scarlet Witch, in her comic book costume.

Vision in his comic book costume.

Second of all... Monica Rambeau, is that you?!?

Probably Monica Rambeau laying on the ground looking at the camera.

Can't wait to see WandaVision later this year. Especially since Falcon and The Winter Soldier has been pushed back to next year. This pandemic blows.

   
• Emmys! Thrilled that Schitt's Creek and Watchmen did so incredibly well. They are some of my favorite television shows of all time, and having that be acknowledged is a bit surprising, if I'm being honest (Regina King OWNED that award!). All well-deserved! Also happy that Zendaya got some love for Euphoria, which was also well-deserved. A little upset that The Good Place was snubbed for their beautiful final episode... and I still don't get all the fawning over Succession, but you can't have everything.

   
• Cobb! Gutted to learn that Ron Cobb has died. I've been a fan of him and his work for decades. He's been a huge part of some of my favorite movies (including Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Total Recall, The Abyss, Firefly and Back to the Future, to name a few)...

Ron Cobb Art: The DeLorean from Back to the Future.

Ron Cobb Art: An airlock interior from Aliens.

Rest in Peace, sir. You are leaving a legacy that few will ever eclipse.

   
• Ellen! I have always loved Ellen DeGeneres. Her standup is some of the best and funniest I've ever seen. I liked her talk show, but just couldn't watch any more because the constant audience screaming is annoying as fuck. But still... love Ellen. So when the allegations about abuse on her show started surfacing, I was understandably concerned. It seemd way, way out of left field. A part of me was... "Holy crap! Ellen is not allowed to ever get upset... lose her temper... be angry... be a human? Because I was sure that's what was happening. Ellen is focused on her show, some people expect her to be "on" 24/7, and when she's not or is like... being human... people are upset with her. Which is bullshit. But then so-called "stars" started speaking up and I thought "Well, maybe? But even then in the back of my head I'm going Though perhaps they feel that Ellen didn't treat them enough like a "star" and went looking for nasty things to say? In the end, I honestly don't know. But Ellen finally addressed it all, and I have to say that this is pretty much what I expected...

So... yeah. I'm happy that Ellen took the allegations seriously, fired those who let things get so bad, and is promising to do better. That's all we humans can really do. And maybe since the audience is now "virtual" they will tone down all the fucking screaming so I can watch the show again? Anything is possible.

   
• Fascism! Holy fucking SHIT! Is anybody giving a crap what's going on in this country? Anybody? We've got a president trying to scare people with outright lies so they vote for him after telling people that he didn't want to cause a panic with the pandemic so he lied to the American people about it? Are you fucking kidding me? I don't give a crap which political party you ascribe to, just look at this shit...

I honestly don't know what to say. If anybody should be outraged about this, it's Republicans. What's happening is diametrically opposed to what Conservatives are SUPPOSED to be about... yet the GOP seems to be doing fucking nothing except enabling the maniac in charge. It's like we're living Bizarro World. Especially when you consider that are alternative to all this is fucking Joe Biden? How fucked is this country? Oh well. At least with Biden we'll (hopefully) not have anti-science Nazi fascism actively working to destroy the country and screw its citizens. Assuming he can get elected... which is not the slam-dunk it should be, alas.

   
See you tomorrow for a non-bullet post. Or so I assume. Who knows what might happen before then? The world seems to be exploding daily.

   

Bullet Sunday 653

Posted on March 8th, 2020

Dave!Its... THE SHITTIEST DAY OF THE YEAR, but help is on the way... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Lose an Hour! There are many people who don't like the time change to Daylight Saving Time. Not me... I FUCKING HATE IT! There is nothing more stupid than dicking with the clocks twice a year. Ask anybody...


And yet politicians won't do a damn about it. They've got bigger things to do... like fuck us over for lobbyist cash. I mean, holy shit. This is the ONE THING they could do to better our quality of life that wouldn't cost them a fucking thing, and yet here we are. JUST PICK A FUCKING TIME AND STICK WITH IT! And now I get to do my taxes.
UPDATE: Annnnd... my effective tax rate went up AGAIN under the "tax-you-less" president. How nice. And now he wants to cut the Social Security I fucking PAID INTO my entire working life? Oh well. At least we're getting a brand new tennis court at the fucking White House.

   
• Women! On the bright side, it's International Women's Day! Which is kind of silly because shouldn't every day should be International Women's Day?

   
• Guardians! James Gunn confirmed that he'd like to see a Drax & Mantis movie. Which I'd love to see too but, let's face it, the ideal home for such a project would be Disney+ streaming...

A tweet from James Gunn confirming that he thinks a Drax and Mantis movie would be amazing.

Drax and Mantis sitting on golden steps.

If James Gunn were to pitch a Disney+ series for Drax and Mantis to Kevin Feige that he would write and direct, Marvel Studios would be falling all over themselves to say yes. First of all, without Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, the cast budget is a fraction of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Second of all, without Rocket and Groot, the special effects budget could be a fraction of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This makes good sense. This makes phenomenal sense. And I'm willing to bet that Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff would 100% be up to do it. These are some of the most fun characters they could possibly play, so why not?

   
• Just Watch It.

   
• Sirens! There are plenty of television shows that I'm sad they canceled. One of the biggest is Sirens, which I love beyond all reason. I was rewatching them this weekend while working and started missing it all over again. Especially Billy, which is one of my favorite television characters of all time...

Billy Moments - Season 1 from mrnmrsreese on Vimeo.

He was a reoccurring character in Season One... but they (wisely) made him a regular in Season Two. There was no Season Three. But oh man do I wish there was. Both seasons are on sale for $4.99 on Apple's iTunes, if you want to check them out.

   
• Kern It! OH MY SWEET LORD! STOP ALLOWING PEOPLE WHO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT TYPOGRAPHY AND KERNING TO MAKE TITLES FOR YOUR TELEVISION SHOW! If this is not the worst I've ever seen... it's certainly in the top ten. SCRIPT TYPEFACES ARE MEANT TO BE CONNECTED! STOP SPACING THEM APART!!! And holy shit! THAT "B" IS SO FAR AWAY IT'S IN ITS OWN FUCKING ZIP CODE!!! GAH! GAAAAAAHHHH!!! My eyes are bleeding...

Shitty, SHITTY fucking kerning in the movie title for The Perfect Bride.

I simply do not understand how these kind of blaring typography errors flourish. Proper kerning is not rocket science. Watch a fucking YouTube video or something.

   
• NO TIME TO DIE! Daniel Craig was on SNL this weekend and, just like his previous hosting gig, it's surprising just how good he is at this. Of course he parodied his upcoming Bond flick, No Time To Die ...

I am sad that it's his final James Bond film, but if it means he's going to do more movies like Knives Out, which he was also great at.

   
And that's a wrap. Enjoy your higher taxes and losing an hour of your day!

   

Disney+ and a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Posted on November 12th, 2019

Dave!And so Disney+ is finally here.

Unlike Apple TV+, the content you get is staggering. Tons of shows and movies from the Disney archives (some of them having been buried for a long time) plus shows and movies from Disney affiliates (every episode of The Simpsons is right here). And of course the new shows and movies they have been promoting from the very start which will leverage their Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and National Geographic properties. I got in on a pre-purchase deal that dropped the cost to less than $4 a month, and at that price this is a bargain and a half for what you get.

Granted, the Marvel shows that I'm really looking forward to are a ways off yet, but I'd pay $4 a month for The Mandalorian alone, so it's all kinda a no-brainer.

And now, just as I did with Apple TV+ content, I am dropping my thoughts on what Disney+ originals bring to the table, from my favorite to least favorite...

The Mandalorian. The entire reason to get Disney+ from the get-go is right here. And, with the exception of Rogue One, it's better than most of the Star Wars stuff that's been released in the past 20 years. Mostly because Jon Favreau and Co. just didn't care about anything but taking all the cool stuff from Star Wars and doing something truly new with it. Between the mysterious nature of Pedro Pascal's namesake Mandalorian... and a freakin' fantastic appearance by a droid from the IG-88 series (IG-11). If you have even the smallest, most basic interest in Star Wars, here's your show. And reason enough to climb onboard the Disney+ train.

The Imagineering Story. The first of six episodes looking behind the scenes of creating the Disney parks. It's fantastic, featuring archive footage and modern interviews to explain how Disneyland (and everything that followed) came to be. Really cool stuff here... like a look at the incomparable Mary Blair at work. I'd pay the $7 price of admission just to watch this series.

Marvel: Expanding the Universe. A quick 12 minute sneak peak of all the stuff I am dying to watch on Disney+ (AKA the entire reason I subscribed). There's precious little new information here, but it definitely gets you excited for what's to come.

SparkShorts. These independent Pixar shorts are, well, everything you expect from Pixar. The first three (Purl, Smash and Grab, and Kitbull) were excellent, so there was no reason to expect anything less from Float. And it doesn't disappoint. Gorgeous animation about a dad trying to deal with a kid who can... float. It's sweet, heartfelt, and amazing. Interesting to note that Disney+ has added other amazing Pixar shorts like Bao and Piper to the service as well.

The World According to Jeff Goldblum I am not quite sure what this is supposed to be. It's essentially just Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum at his Jeff Goldblummiest while looking into a subject through the lens of Jeff Goldblum. The result is pretty great, but not exactly groundbreaking. Other shows have done this kind of thing better. But none of them had Jeff Goldblum, and that's the point isn't it? In the premiere, Jeff gets into the inexplicably cutthroat world of sneakers and the jaw-dropping price that people are willing to pay to get collectible pairs. Along the way we get mini-lessons about where vulcanized rubber came from, how companies like Adidas create sneakers, and other tangents. No mention of sweat shops in Indonesia paying children $1 a day to make the sneakers though. I guess you could call this superficially educational... superficial edutainment? Though Jeff slaps back against flat-earthers and dinosaur deniers, so there's that. Definitely watching this one.

Lady and The Tramp. The live-action remakes from Disney have been a mixed bag. Some of them are amazing (Jungle Book was fantastic), some of them are okay (Christopher Robin has great elements, but kinda flails) and some are just bad (Dumbo was sincerely lacking). The animated Lady and the Tramp was beautiful to look at, but not a favorite. I didn't expect the live-action remake to change my mind. But they pulled out all the stops to create a good film. No, it's not a cinematic masterpiece (and is not as good as the original), but the rescue dog stars they got were great. The casting was perfect (Sam Elliott as Trusty? Come on!). And the CGI talking effects were well-done. This is kinda a perfect example of what Disney+ should be. A place for movies not quite reaching the quality of a feature-film release, but deserving of more than some $9.99 direct-to-video dump.

Marvel Hero Project. If there's a promise for Disney+ outside of the obvious, shows like this are it. Inspiring, true-life stories that find heroes in humanity and showcase how they are changing our world... THEN, ZOMG, MADE INTO A MARVEL COMIC BOOK! The first issue has Jordan, a girl with limb differences, working to make the world more accessible for everyone. There's an awful lot to like about this show... even without the Marvel element... but made oh so much better because of the Marvel element. I mean, yeah, fashioning a "glitter arm" and shooting sparkly glitter at people may seem like a silly idea to build an episode around, but when you see the show you "get it." It will be interesting to see what future episodes will bring.

Noelle. Given my predilection for Hallmark Christmas movies, I thought this would be right up my alley. Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader? Oh my garland! Sign me up! And yet... it's not that at all. Instead it's more like a remake of Elf but not really nailing it. Sure it's cute, clever, brimming with Christmas charm, and has the eternal optimism you expect from Disney... but it's all kinda meh despite incredible production values and a great cast. Santa has retired and his son doesn't have the confidence, skills, or desire to take over, so it falls to his daughter Noelle. Given the date of the Disney+ debut, I suppose there had to be a Christmas movie. And this wasn't bad. Though I wonder if kids will be able to get into it? My guess is not.

Encore! Kristen Bell attempts to revive old productions of amateur high school musical theater... with the original cast! The first episode is Annie with the cast of a 1996 Santana High School production. I don't like musicals, at all, but was fascinated by the concept. And Kristen Bell. They start with a catchup of where all the cast is today... police officers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, and such. Then gather them together with a professional director, music director, and choreographer to stage a modern take on the original. And along the way you get to see them come together and rehash the past and discuss what's been happening in their lives. The result was okay... but ultimately not my thing. Not the personal drama nor the musical theater. And yet... I might keep tuning in on occasion? It's an interesting idea for reality television for sure.

Ask Forky a Question. Cute to see Forky and Ham again, but this first short (What is Money?) was pretty uneventful. Just Forky being Forky and nothing really happening.

Pixar in Real Life. A godawful attempt to bring Pixar into the real world. This first one brings in the control panel from Inside Out to the real world where passerby can control the emotions of two actors. Pointless and not the least bit entertaining. It's five minutes long. I made it to a minute-and-a-half before bailing.

Disney Family Sundays This is some kind of weird-ass crafting show for kids. But a horrifically bad one. In the first episode they make Dumbo's circus tent. The supplies include A PRE-MADE CANOPY TENT?!? WTF? Who has that laying around? Can you even buy that? Then you essentially hot-glue-gun a bunch of garish crap to the pre-made canopy. This is what passes for "crafting" now-a-days? Pathetic. And I just don't get it. First you have to watch the show, then you have to make a massive laundry-list of supplies to go buy (or try to find to buy), then you have to watch the show again as a step-by-step. Lame. I guess I should have expected some cheap "filler" shows to fill in the gaps, but this?!?

High School Musical: The Series No. Won't do it. This is where I draw the line.

   
And that's it.

Well, not really. Tons of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars content await. Including some stuff from my childhood that I didn't expect to ever see again... like The Love Bug series (including Herbie Rides Again with Helen Hayes) and The Cat from Outer Space. And stuff I don't own that I'd definitely like to revisit (including Saving Mr. Banks and Hannah Montana).

I've read about people having connection problems with Disney+ but haven't had any major problems. Once or twice I've had an error pop up...

Something went wrong. Please try again.

...but after I dismiss and restart the program everything works just fine. And, much to my surprise, the program picks up right where the problem occurred. Nice!

The Apple TV interface is fairly good. The web interface is pretty bad. No navigation within the site... you have to use your browser's back button. But, in both cases, the content played just fine so I can't really complain.

Disney+ is off to a good start. But it's what's to come that has me excited to be a subscriber.

   

Avengers: Damage Control

Posted on November 6th, 2019

Dave!Well that was fun.

I flew to Minneapolis for one day because I am a Marvel Studios completist and just HAD to do Avengers: Damage Control at The Void (thanks to Kyle for being a good sport and doing it with me!). It's an immersive VR experience that's part game, part virtual world. You strap on a backpack filled with tech, don a VR helmet, then walk through a physical "studio" which has been remapped in your goggles with an entirely new reality. Along the way you fight Ultron robots and stuff...

So far as the technology goes... it’s pretty glitchy. You're in the "experience" with three other people and move from area to area with them. But the physical representations of the other "players" is not entirely stable or accurately mapped. Sometimes you'll look over at somebody and they will be walking in place oddly or randomly switch directions. The hybrid Black Panther /slash/ Iron Man suits you get mapped on you are pretty cool though...

People wearing their VR backpack and helmet transforming into VR people dressed in outfits which look to be a cross between Iron Man and Black Panther.

The mapping of your real hands to your virtual hands is... okay-ish. But many times my hands would disappear or jump to a wildly different spot. Kyle has tattoos on his arms and hands which made it so one of his virtual "hands" rarely functioned at all. And it’s a little tough to “get into the action” when your hands keep disappearing! So... helpful hint, I guess... if you have arm/hand tattoos, maybe you need to wear white lycra sleeves and gloves or something?

Your VR self holding up their hands to a virtual mirror and seeing your VR self.

That being said... the coolest part of the experience is not the "game" part. It's being able to look around at the world they created, which is absurdly cool. I almost wanted to go back through again so I could ignore the battle and just see all the stuff going on in your environment that's 360° around you. You go from Shuri's training center to Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum to a full-on battle with Ultra-Ultron on a New York City rooftop. And along the way you meet a goodly selection of Avengers...

Your VR self holding up their hands and blasting Ultron robots.

Your VR self holding up their hands and blasting even more Ultron robots.

Here comes Ultra-Ultron!

The major characters in Damage Control are Shuri, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and The Wasp. And they actually got Letitia Wright to act in it, plus Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, and Evangeline Lilly to voice their CGI characters (which is why it was worth my flying to Minneapolis to see it all, since it's the real deal and not some imitation video game. Though all the other characters who speak were imitation, but done pretty well. I guess they ran out of budget to get all the stars?

Ant-Man waves at you while The Wasp stands nearby.

Seattle doesn't have a The Void location. And not all locations have Avengers: Damage Control. I just picked the cheapest to get to, which was the Mall of America in Minneapolis (surprisingly, it would have taken more miles to get to Las Vegas or a South-California location, which is weird because they're closer). The price of admission is $40. I don't know that it's worth that to somebody who isn't a fan of Marvel movies... and felt a little overpriced even for somebody like me who is. Apparently the Avengers experience is a limited-time engagement through the 15th, so if this is something you absolutely must try, then you might want to get some tickets and get on that.

Right now, things are still a bit glitchy, and those glitches do take away from the experience. I'd imagine within another five years you'll just put on some VR specs and be able to do this kind of stuff in your living room perfectly. Until then, you can invest in an Oculus VR headset and have a non-walk-through experience at home, or go to a VR space like The Void and take what you can get.

And what I need to get is some sleep, because I have to be up at 4am to head home.

   

Bullet Sunday 634

Posted on October 20th, 2019

Dave!Don't let the short, cold, grey days get you down, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Who Watches? Tonight was the premiere of HBO's new Watchmen series, which is a continuation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I enjoyed the first episode quite a lot, despite many, many. misgivings. Primary of which is using extreme violence against Black persons and the Tulsa Race Riots as entertainment fodder. I always worry that there are people watching not because they find the horror in it all, but because that's what they get off on watching. Anyway... the original comic book series was an epic work of storytelling genius, and having somebody like Damon Lindelhof (who helped turn Lost from a promising television show into a steaming pile of idiocy) was worrisome. But, if this first episode is any indication, we're in for a wild, action-packed ride. But, even better, it seems to be building to... something...

The new series constructs its story around racism and our ever-escalating conflict with white supremacy. While admirable, I'm going to have to reserve judgement on whether it's an effective take until the end. As for the show itself, HBO put some serious money into it, and it shows. On top of getting top-shelf talent like Regina King, Jean Smart (who was oddly absent the first episode), Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson, and Jeremy Irons(!)... it looks gorgeous, and the weird world that Moore and Gibbons created feels fully realized. If you have HBO, it's kinda a no-brainer to tune in. But if that's not incentive enough, here's Dave Gibbons drawing Regina King's character, Sister Night...

Eight weeks to go until we find out where this is all going. Hopefully somewhere worthwhile. All we need is for Lindelof to drop the ball at the end like he did with Lost.

   
• A Mystery. After watching the premiere of the new Nancy Drew I cannot fathom how in the hell the conversation went at the initial meeting. But I'm guessing it went something like this...

NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: My plan is to get some of the best talent available to write compelling mysteries with a modern slant. Really push boundaries on excellent storytelling and give viewers some best-of-class television to sink their teeth into.

NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Or you could just put a bunch of nonsensical drama in it with some gratuitous sex and not give a flying fuck about the quality of the mysteries and stories. Would be cheaper that way.

NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: And a pile of worthless, forgettable shit it will be then.

NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Put Scott Wolf in there. That'll fix everything!

NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: And a pile of worthless, forgettable shit with an appearance by Scott Wolf it will be then.

NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Start the first episode with Nancy really getting pounded... we're talking shaking a cup of coffee off the nightstand kind of sex pounding. But put her on top so we don't get complaints about having a weak female lead.

Nancy Drew is an iconic character who deserves far better than this crap. How it got greenlit is a mystery.

   
• Shoot Your Shot. I love this series anyway... but this episode with Mindhunter's Holt McCallany is one of my favorites to date...

What a cool guy!

   
• Nest, Take Two. I have two sets of security cameras... one is hardwired with local storage and the other is a cloud-cam system by Nest (now owned by Google). The Nest cams are really great, but frustrating because their per-camera pricing for cloud storage is way too expensive. Amazon's cloud storage has a far more reasonable single fee which covers all your cameras. I was going to switch in February when my current Nest contract runs out because the cost to buy all-new Amazon cameras would be offset after just one year. And this week I found out I no longer have to do that. Somebody at Google Nest decided to get serious about being competitive and announced all new cloud storage pricing which will cover all my cameras for one fee like Amazon. So that's refreshing.

   
• Eyeroll Territory. Not content to let their legacy as some of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema speak for itself... two old men insist on criticizing modern filmmaking, and come across as pathetic, jealous, entitled egomaniacs. Just fuck off already. Nobody who loves what Marvel is doing gives a single fuck about your asshole opinions. I mean, holy shit... Coppola acts like he never made "Supernova," one of the biggest pile of shit movies I've ever seen. What a joke.

   
• Programming. And, lastly, because I just can't help myself... something to read if you're a code-geek like me: The Lines of Code That Changed Everything. It's pretty fascinating. Even moreso if you've ever programmed before.

   
And... scene. Have a good week!

   

Bullet Sunday 632

Posted on October 6th, 2019

Dave!Sunday is travel day but I'm not depressed at all, because an all new Bullet Sunday LIVE FROM NEW ORLEANS starts... now...

   
• Spider-Fan. It was being reported that Tom Holland himself was responsible for getting Disney and Sony back to the bargaining table and keeping Spider-Man in the MCU. This was then confirmed by Bob Iger on Jimmy Kimmel Live! To say I'm thrilled is a gross understatement...

Tom Holland in his Spider-Man costume.

All you have to do is watch the post-credits sequence of Spider-Man: Far From Home to know what a huge, huge, massively huge benefit it is to have even the smallest ties to what Marvel has built... it's not just the big players like Nick Fury and Maria Hill. So bless you, Tom Holland.

   
• FalCap! And speaking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this fantastic piece of art appeared this week...

Sam Wilson in a Captain America costume sporting Cap’s shield with The Winter Solder, Bucky Barnes.

If Marvel Studios puts as much effort and money into their Disney+ series as their movies, we are in for a real treat.

It looks like Falcon Cap still has his wing pack on? I would hope so. Since he doesn’t have Cap’s Super Soldier serum, he’s going to need something to give him an edge. Could make for a very interesting fighting style.

   
• The Horror. This GEICO insurance commercial slays me every time it appears on my television...

If all commercials were as clever as this, I wouldn’t have to fast-forward through them. But most commercials are stupid and so annoying that I really HAVE to fast forward through them.

   
• Predator. Speaking of horror... holy crap! Maybe it’s because I buy cheap cars that I actually pay off that I was so oblivious to just how horrific and predatory the auto industry is when it comes to selling their crack cocaine! I mean cars. I had no idea.

   
• Real Fake. This video explaining the cinematography of Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4 is absolutely fascinating...

While a part of me bemoans the impending death of hand-drawn animation, it’s nice to know that 3D computer animators are not resting on their laurels, and continue to push for ever more amazing work in their films.

   
• A9. Hey, if anybody has $4,500 laying around, you could totally buy me the gorgeous new Sony A9 Mark II camera that’s being released later this year. Just sayin’.

   
• Enjoy Your Inequity. In what should come as a shock to absolutely nobody, the IRS admits that they audit poor people because it’s easier and cheaper than auditing rich people. And make absolutely no mistake... the wealthy people who own this country designed it to be this way. They get all the loopholes... they get all the breaks... they get everything. And meanwhile, you get to take the shit sandwich they’re feeding you.

   
See you next Sunday... but probably not from my favorite American city.

   

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