"You're not dying... you just can't think of anything better to do."
— Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
I've had cheese pizza for dinner three times in the past week. It's not that I'm particularly craving cheese pizza, I just can't think of anything better to eat. Well, I can, but flying to Amsterdam for a cheese sandwich or jetting off to Rome for Fettucine Alfredo seems a bit excessive. Oh well, pizza and bullets it is then. Welcome to a Very Special NEW YEAR Edition of Bullet Sunday!
• NEW CHANNELS! I relented and purchased an expanded cable television package because my sister got me hooked on The Big C which you can only get on the Showtime Channel. Unfortunately, The Big C was just the beginning. Now I'm hooked on Dexter again... PLUS Boardwalk Empire on HBO. What an amazing show that is. I've always liked Steve Buscemi's acting, but damn...
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The other actors in Boardwalk Empire are great too ( ZOMG! Erik Weiner?)... along with the writing, the directing, the production values, and everything else associated with the show. I guess with Martin Scorsese involved I shouldn't be surprised, but damn...
• NEW HOTNESS! Well, okay, Summer Glau is not exactly "new," having appeared as "River Tam" in fan-favorite Joss Whedon awesomeness Firefly. And then she did a smattering of guest appearances in television shows meant to appeal to a sci-fi geek's wet dreams, including The 4400 and Dollhouse... along with playing a FRICKIN' TERMINATOR in the sweet Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles...
And now she's moving into comic book geek territory by taking a role on The Cape, a super-hero series debuting on the 9th...
I can only guess that her next role will be as Wonder Woman, because that's about the only thing in the genre left for her to play! Hopefully her new show will be worth a crap, and not some lame knock-off of a lame show like Heroes.
• NEW AWESOME! As a huge, huge fan of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, the movie I am most looking forward to this year is... PAUL! The movie looks entertaining as hell and, since it's Frost & Pegg, you know it's going to be funny. AND THE CAST! It's got Kristin Wigg, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, AND SIGOURNEY WEAVER IN IT! I can't for the life of me understand why the buzz on this film isn't bigger than it is...
• NEW SHIT? Last year Steve Ballmer took the stage of the annual Consumer Electronics Show to show off Microsoft's revolutionary new tablet version of Windows 7 to be released on an upcoming "slate" hardware device.
THIS year Steve Ballmer will be taking the stage of the annual Consumer Electronics Show to show off Microsoft's revolutionary new tablet version of Windows 7 to be released on an upcoming "tablet" hardware device.
See, "slate" was the old shit. "Slates" ended up sucking ass and nobody bought them because "slates" don't have the power necessary to run a resource-sucking pile of shit like Windows. But then Apple unveiled the "iPad" which everybody made fun of because it sounded like "maxi pad" (or whatever). Everybody in the industry also made fun of iPad because it wasn't a "real" computer at all but just a "big phone that can't make calls" or perhaps a "grossly underpowered computer that can't do anything."
But then Apple had the last laugh (as usual) because iPad went on to sell a bajillion units.
So now Microsoft is recycling the same fucked-up bullshit that nobody wanted the first time around and pretending it's new because apparently, thanks to Apple, everybody came to their senses and decided they want a tablet computer all along. Microsoft was just ahead of its time last year, and THIS year will be totally different!
Except that's not what happened at all. People didn't all of a sudden embrace tablet computer... they embraced the iPad which, as everybody in the industry was so quick to point out, IS NOT A COMPUTER. Sure it has some computer functionality, but it's more an "appliance" that becomes different electronic devices as opposed to a traditional computer. The fact that it's NOT A COMPUTER is what makes it so compelling. People who need a computer aren't going to be satisfied with a stripped down, crippled, slow tablet device. It's people who are looking for something simple and functional who are the iPad's target customer, and Apple understood this.
Microsoft (as usual) is playing catch-up and doing it all wrong. Again. I'm sure after the "tablet" fails just like the "slate" failed, Balmer will be standing on the stage in 2012 with the "new" Microsoft "pad" device running the tablet edition of Windows 7 because THAT'S what the problem was... it was the NAME that sabotaged the previous two attempts!
That same name that everybody made fun of when Apple unleashed it last year.
Oh how I loathe Microsoft. They have access to unlimited money and unlimited technology, but there's nobody there with any kind of vision to make any use of it. I'M STILL WAITING FOR MY FLYING CAR, STEVE BALMER, YOU DEMENTED FOOL!!
• NEW OUTLOOK! I promise myself that I will be 50% less critical of Microsoft this year, because I know everybody it tired of
That will be really fucking easy to do, because this year Microsoft will be 50% less relevant to the computer industry, the mobile phone industry, and the electronic industry in general, just like they were last year (KIN PHONES FOR EVERYBODY!).
The only place Microsoft is holding any ground is with their Xbox 360 video game console. You know, their SIX YEAR OLD ENTERTAINMENT TECHNOLOGY?!? Of course, six years in electronics years is like SIXTY years in human years, so heaven only knows how long that gravy train is going to last. Hopefully they've got an
Of course, it's not inconceivable that Apple won't come out with iPlay (or whatever) and swipe the gaming market as well. Thanks to iPod Touch, iPhone, and now iPad, they've pretty much sewn up the portable gaming market already. What's one more area of global domination to Steve Jobs?
• NEW INSIGHT! Well, not really. Despite Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back being two of my most favorite movies of all time, I found the "prequels" to be massive piles of shit. Not only were they boring as hell, but they barely made any sense. When I initially wrote my thoughts on Revenge of the Sith after it was released, I ranked it as "okay" even though I fully admitted it sucked. Probably because compared to The Phantom Mencace and Attack of the Clones it was utter genius. I was so desperate to like Star Wars again that ranking it "okay" was more of a cry for help than any acknowledgement of cinematic greatness...
This got me roundly despised by many of my fellow Star Wars fans who thought Revenge of the Sith was the best thing ever. Not that I can blame them... if you've been eating nothing but vomit and fond memories for decades, a plate of moldy bread is going to feel like dinner at the Ritz.
Now that time has passed, perspective has only managed to take the bloom off the rose. Or, in the case of Mr. Plinkett, to shred the rose into pieces, cover it in raw sewage, then fart on it as you toss it into a nuclear explosion. His biting, scathing analysis is horrifyingly accurate. He not only addresses all the problems I had with the film* but expands upon them with some insight I hadn't considered.
If you're okay with lots of profanity and a shocking lack of taste and morals masquerading as a movie review, then this is something you must see.
And there you have it. The first Bullet Sunday of a new year. Let's hope I survive the week to do a second one.
*Well, one thing he DOESN'T address is the bullshit about "midichlorian count" being an indicator as to how powerful somebody is with The Force. If a massive number of midichlorians determines your strength, how can Darth Vader be so fucking powerful when he lost both legs and both arms? That's an ass-load of midichlorians to lose. And can somebody who has low midichlorians inject a bunch of them and instantly become a Jed Master? ARRRGH! Like everything else in the prequels, this shit doesn't make any fucking sense!
I started today the same way I start every Martin Luther King Jr. Day... by listening to his brilliant and beautiful "I have a Dream" speech in its entirety. It never fails to inspire. I actually had the day off from work on this holiday, but chose to get some things done at the office anyway. Somehow, no-pressure work days are always more productive than they have a right to be.
After work I needed bread and milk, so I was off to the grocery store. As I was walking down the aisles, a box of crackers started screaming at me. After investigating, I found out it wasn't actually crackers, it was something stupider than a box of crackers. It was a motion-sensor voice-recording of this asshole...
I always wondered if there could possibly be anything more annoying than Fran Drescher. It turns out there is, and it's "Chef" Guy Fieri. I have no clue what the appeal is here, but he's showing up everywhere. Just look for the ridiculous "I CRAVE ATTENTION" bleached hair and listen for the manic "YOU CAN'T IGNORE ME" screaming.
Tonight was the premiere of SyFy Channel's rip-off remake of one of my favorite shows... the UK's awesome Being Human from the BBC...
The original is a funny, yet sublimely dark, drama/comedy about a Vampire, a Werewolf, and a Ghost trying to live a normal life under anything but ordinary circumstances. It is surprisingly entertaining despite the schlocky premise. But, for reasons that continue to escape me, SyFy (in collaboration with Canada's Muse Entertainment) feels that they need to cash in on the vampire craze and remake the show for North American audiences instead of just airing the Real Thing or trying to come up with something original.
The resulting Being Human do-over is... interesting...
It is in no way a "bad" show. I think the actors do a pretty good job with the material considering they're basically re-treading territory that has already been deftly explored on another continent. And there's the problem. If you've seen the original, this is going to feel like an inferior copy by comparison. Because it is. It's less subtle, less charming, and (surprisingly) less... human(?)... at least from what I've seen so far.
And yet I will be watching next week.
Something tells me that the show holds promise of becoming something more than a copy. If the people involved want it badly enough! Just like The Walking Dead is making some interesting diversions from the comic book source material, Being Human has a chance to grow into a show of its own. And I want to see that show. There's definitely room for me to enjoy both of them if our revision should prove worthy.
Which is exactly opposite of the reason I will not be watching MTV's remake of the shocking BBC program Skins which takes a scary look at what teenagers are doing with their lives. In that case, one show is more than enough.
Ooh! There's lots of new television happening lately!
And though I've got work piled to the rafters, I'm watching it all so I don't risk missing something great. Well, not all of it, but a lot of it. Here are the shows I found that are worth talking about...
Episodes • Showtime, Sundays @ 9:30pm.
A long time ago in a magical far away place known as "Hollywood," I worked for nine long months on a project that was doomed to failure from the very first minute I arrived. Of course I had no idea. That's because nobody told me, even though they knew it all along. On the contrary, most everybody I ever met told me the exact opposite of what was really happening at any given moment, because keeping you happy with a fog of sunshine, half-truths, and lies is the horrifying reality of how things work in Hollywood. Not for everyone, of course, but for most people. Including me. Episodes is a 7-part series about Sean and Beverly Lincoln who are a husband-and-wife team responsible for a wildly successful British television comedy about the headmaster of an upper-crust English school. They are lured to Hollywood with bold promises and tempting perks to create an American version of their hit series. The show is, of course, doomed to failure from the very first minute they arrive. Their witty and smart headmaster played by a respected British actor is re-cast as a hockey coach played by Matt LeBlanc ("Joey" from Friends) and things just get worse and worse. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, but the show is so eerily accurate to my "Hollywood Experience" that I spend most of my time having nasty flashbacks and can't enjoy it properly. Still, it is surprisingly good despite it all, and I can't wait for each new episode. Watch it from the beginning if you can.
Onion News Network • IFC, Fridays @ 10:00pm.
Started as a satire newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Onion is most widely known for their scathing parodies of popular news. I first discovered it in Milwaukee back in the 90's, and became an instant fan. This was made a lot easier in the late 90's when took their brilliance online. The crazy news stories were quickly eclipsed by even crazier news videos that were funnier than most anything else you could find...
It was only a matter of time before The Onion got a television show to string together all their hilarious videos, and here it is. Packed with plenty of laugh-out-loud bits and "I can't believe they did that" moments, The Onion makes no attempt to cover actual news and instead invents plausible events that could be true but, thankfully, are not (much like most news organizations now-a-days). This is must-see essential television viewing.
Portlandia • IFC, Fridays @ 10:30pm.
Anybody familiar with Portland, Oregon knows that the city is ripe for parody, thus Portlandia was born. Pegged as a place where the ideal of the 90's are still alive and well, the show features interconnecting sketches staring SNL's Fred Armisen and Portland guitarist/actress Carrie Brownstein as an assortment of unrelated characters. Over the course of a half-hour, they poke fun at the Birkenstock-and-granola culture of the city with a loving, yet brutal touch. The result is kind of hit-or-miss but, overall, I found it funny and plenty entertaining. The trick will be keeping things fresh once the novelty has worn off. There's only so many jokes about soy lattes, feminist book stores, and organic food you can make... and most of them are in this first episode.
Harry's Law • NBC, Mondays @ 10:00pm.
It would be easy to dismiss this as yet another one of David E. Kelley's quirky legal shows (which it is) except for one big thing... it stars Kathy Bates. The incredible Kathy Bates who can appear in absolutely anything and be brilliant no matter how bad the material may be. Here she plays "Harriet Korn" a patent lawyer who gets fired from a posh law firm and ends up opening up her own practice in a former shoe store. The quirky gimmick being that her assistant insists on continuing to sell shoes, so the shop ends up being a combo law-office-slash-shoe-store. Ha ha ha. Ultimately, there is nothing new here. David E. Kelley is being David E. Kelley with his typically over-the-top stories and dialogue that shoehorn legal drama into alternating wacky and heart-breaking situations. Meh. Kathy Bates will keep me tuning in, but I'd watch her in a 30-minute infomercial for laxatives, so that's no big feat. Ultimately Harry's Law has a lot of room for expansion and improvement, and I am hopeful we'll see both. But I would be deeply saddened if Kathy Bates was pulled down into the lunacy that Ally McBeal and Boston Legal became, so this necessary move may end up ruining the show. Time will tell. I would probably rate this a C- if not for Bates, which knocks it up a grade.
Fairly Legal • USA Network, Thursdays @ 10:00pm.
I will preface this review by saying I have fallen in love with series star Sarah Shahi. Very few people could elevate the rather flat and uninteresting story to be found in Fairly Legal to anything worth watching, but Shahi has an infectious energy that does just that. Kate Reed is a competent lawyer working at her father's law firm, but decides she's had enough and quits to become a mediator. Then her father dies, her step-mother takes over the law firm, and suddenly Kate is having to keep a lot of balls in the air as she juggles her professional and personal life (including an ex-husband who happens to work for the District Attorney). That could be a great concept for a show, but it doesn't work as well as you'd hope. The writers seem to think that having Kate rush around town perpetually late for appointments in her overloaded schedule is charming, but it gets very annoying very fast. It's as if they just don't know what to do with her when she's not mediating, so they pile on a bunch of crap in a failed attempt at filling space with frantic humor that doesn't quite gel. I can only hope that things will eventually settle down so they can focus on Shahi's performance instead of her running shoes.
Man I wish I didn't love television so much, it would open up a lot of free time.
I'm a little depressed tonight because Hannah Montana is over. I'm also a little stressed because I'm leaving the country later this week. I'm also a little hungry because a slice of toast doesn't make for a very fulfilling dinner. And I'm also a little tired because I've been sleeping even less than usual. Life can be so hard.
• Forever? After putting it off as long as I could, I finally decided to watch the very last final forever episode of Hannah Montana. I fully maintain that it's one of the funniest shows on television, and always enjoyed it as an entertaining distraction from life. Though it definitely lost something in the last season (especially after Miley retired Hannah and revealed her secret to the world)... I think they wrapped it up on a high note. The cameo appearances by Amber & Ashley and Jesse & Oliver were a nice touch. Jackson and Rico had a great moment. Miley and Lilly had a terrific send-off. I honestly can't think of a way they could have ended the show any better. Good bye, Hannah...
• Incomprehensible. When it comes to organizations like The Trevor Project which was created to prevent suicides among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth... I never know how to feel. Part of me is saddened to the point of despair that such organizations have to exist. Part of me is angry to the point of blind fury that such organizations need to be formed at all. Part of me is relieved to the point of anguish that such organizations do exist for youth who desperately need their help. Because when I read about all the violence against kids who are different and just trying to get through life one more day... and when I read about yet another suicide from some poor teenager who couldn't take the abuse any longer... and when I remember back to when one of these kids reached out to me for help because he had nowhere else to turn... there is no emotion inside of me that is not affected. I simply cannot fathom how anybody could torture a young life to the point where The Trevor Project needs to be there to talk them out of taking their own life. Even more incomprehensible is how we live in a society which would allow such a thing.
But it gets worse. Entirely too many people are happy to write this off as "a gay problem" and ignore it. But anybody paying attention knows that this just isn't true. Bullying knows no boundaries. Earlier this week a young girl in Pennsylvania may have committed suicide because of bullying... and there's nothing to indicate it had anything to do with her sexuality. At some point people are going to have to stop treating youth suicide as "a gay problem" and start treating is as everybody's problem. Thinking your kid is excluded is the first mistake. Get involved.
• Olbermann. I never watched Keith Olbermann's Countdown for the same reason I never watch anything on FOX News... it's all just destructive partisan bullshit rhetoric designed to tear this country apart. What kills me is the outbreak of sheer joy by Conservatives across the blogosphere now that Olbermann and MSNBC have retired Countdown. I mean, who gives a shit? It's not like any of them watched his show. Keith Olbermann was just somebody to hate. As usual, the venom being unleashed by the hardcore Right is baffling. The general consensus seems to be something like "HA HA! I'M SO HAPPY OLBERMANN'S DISGUSTING LIBERAL TRASH IS OFF THE AIR!" which is ironic on so many levels. I mean, as opposed to what?!? The disgusting CONSERVATIVE trash that's being unleashed daily from shows like The O'Reilly Factor and The Sean Hannity Show and The Glenn Beck Program?
If FOX News is where somebody chooses to get their information, more power to them. This is a free country, and people can believe what they wish (at least for the time being). But saying FOX News is some kind of "fair and balanced news source" instead of the partisan propaganda machine it obviously is... then crucifying Olbermann for doing the same thing on the opposite side of the fence... it's just plain stupid. All any of these people ever do is keep Americans at each other's throats because it makes them money. I choose to repudiate such reprehensible, anti-American behavior in the hopes that we can all be respectful of each other's opinions and beliefs and work together to make this a great country FOR ALL OF US. Granted, this is even more delusional than somebody believing FOX News isn't partisan hackery, but at least I don't go around hating people because somebody tells me to. I hate people because of their actions... just like our Founding Fathers intended.
• Limbaugh. And one of the people I choose to hate for their actions is Rush Limbaugh. This absurdly stupid pile of shit apparently has an amazing talent to make people turn off their brains when they listen to him. Unbelievable, I know, but it's the only explanation that makes any sense when you hear the vile bullshit he spews every time he opens his mouth. His latest racist rant against the Chinese offends me on so many levels that I couldn't even listen to his fucked-up crap until Steven Colbert injected jokes into it...
I mean, seriously. What the fuck?
How could anybody listen to such utter idiocy and take Rush Limbaugh seriously? Who could hear this bullshit and think Rush Limbaugh is not a complete dumbass? He doesn't comprehend how anybody could possibly communicate in any language except English? He doesn't understand that waiting until a somebody finishes speaking to a live audience before interrupting with a translation is just extending respect and courtesy due a WORLD LEADER? He doesn't think that if there was a major mis-translation of the speech that anybody would notice? He thinks making fun of a language spoken by over a BILLION people with "ching chong chung ching chang" isn't offensive? He honestly feels that President Obama being polite by paying attention to Chinese Paramount Leader Hu Jintao is stupid because Obama doesn't understand Chinese? (what the fuck would Rush Limbaugh do? Take out a Q-Tip swab and clean his ears?). What am I missing? How do people not see that Rush Limbaugh is nothing more than a moron with a severely diminished mental capacity and a microphone?
It's one thing to be upset over China's sad record on human rights. Or to be upset that the USA owes China such a staggering sum of money. Or to be confused by the customs, languages, and laws of foreign countries. But it's another thing entirely to think that being a self-important, xenophobic, rude asshole to a visiting foreign leader is how we should be conducting foreign diplomacy. It is painfully obvious that the people of this nation desperately need to travel outside our borders (not necessarily physically) and see more of the world so that disgusting voices like Rush Limbaugh's don't define our ignorance. Sadly, it may already be too late.
And, on that sour note, I think it's time for bed. Just maybe I'll actually be able to get some sleep tonight.
It's the twentieth anniversary of Twin Peaks! And it's being celebrated with an art show today in Los Angeles. Oh how I wish I could be there.
One of my favorite shows ever, David Lynch's epic story of secrets and murder in a small Pacific Northwest community was about the most fascinating, bizarre, beautiful, and altogether brilliant programs to ever air on television. While there have been a few shows that have tried to emulate its quirky genius over the years, there will likely never be anything quite like the strange saga of Laura Palmer ever again.
"She's dead... Wrapped in plastic..."
Even if the show wasn't spectacularly entertaining, I probably would have still been interested in watching it. Most of the exterior locations used in the series are about an hour-and-a-half from my home. David Lynch wanted to create a series that took a glimpse into the shady underside of small town living, and what he came up with was so convincing that I often felt that I could be living in Twin Peaks.
"My log does not judge..."
The tragedy of Twin Peaks is that it was canceled right in the middle of a massive cliffhanger at the end of its second season. David Lynch eventually released a movie called Fire Walk With Me which was eagerly anticipated by fans, but it ended up being more of a prequel than a sequel, and fared poorly at the box office. Even worse, it did very little to address all the lingering questions from the series.
"There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge..."
I haven't watched the full series in sequence since I revisited the first season five years ago, so I suppose it's time. The problem is that I'll just end up getting all sucked into the world of Twin Peaks again, knowing that it's going to be chopped off in middle of the story. I suppose it's futile, but a part of me still hopes that Lynch will get together the cast and wrap up what he started. Sure you run the risk of being disappointed, but at least you get closure.
"I'll see you again in 25 years. Meanwhile…"
Will we see another Twin Peaks project in 2015/2016 just as Laura Palmer promised? Who knows. That would certainly be awesome.
In the meanwhile... there's Fringe which is about the most messed-up show on television right now. Last night's episode approached a near Twin-Peaks-level of freakiness, which is no easy feat. It's so odd to me that J.J. Abrams shit-pile of a mess, Lost, got so much attention and blockbuster ratings when the real interesting stuff is happening over at his other series, Fringe.
Time for some cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee at the Double-R Diner.
"Through the darkness of futures past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds... fire, walk with me."
I've been watching the current IBM Jeopardy! Challenge with great interest.
For those not in the know, the game show Jeopardy! has invited its two greatest champions... Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter... to come back for a special tournament where they will match wits with IBM's super-computer, "Watson." It's an interesting challenge, because Watson has to stand on his own... parsing the language of the questions and using an internal database (no internet) to formulate his answers. He then has to physically press a ring-in button, just like a real opponent would...
After the first game, Watson is destroying the competition with a $35,754 total over Rutter ($10,000) and Jennings ($4,800)... even though he missed the Final Jeopardy! question. There's another game to go, but it's pretty clear that Watson's immense collection of data and clever programming has given "him" an unbeatable edge.
What I like best about Watson is his "face" which displays a beautiful animated avatar designed by The Hype Framework. It pulses and moves with a lovely array of line-work to reflect his "thinking" in various ways...
But, as interesting as Watson is at playing Jeopardy, it's OTHER games he might end up playing that worry me. Like... say... GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR?!?
I, for one, welcome our new Jeopardy! Champion Overlord.
I'm not sick, but I'm feeling like crap.
Probably because I made the mistake of taking a nap when I got home. That never works out well for me, but I was half-dead from the crazy events of the past week and couldn't help myself.
And so now I'm three-quarters-dead and have nobody to blame but myself...
Tomorrow's going to be a fun day.
In television news... Survivor sucks more and more each season because Jeff Probst tries and makes the show be about Jeff Probst. Sorry, but this show is supposed to be about the contestants. Stop trying to influence the game and manipulate Tribal Council to put the spotlight on you. It's not making the game any more interesting... it's making the game less relevant to the outcome. Just announce the challenges, initiate the conversation, snuff the torches, and SHUT THE FUCK UP. Also? Those "Redemption Island What-If Moments" are truly stupid and wasting valuable time we should be spending... oh... I dunno... WATCHING THE GAME.
In other television news... Mr. Sunshine has to be the biggest waste of television talent in recent memory. Matthew Perry, who was not only genius in Friends and Studio 60, but near-inspiring in his guest-appearances on The West Wing is wasted on mind-numbingly boring material. Allison Janney, who's run on The West Wing is legendary, has been given a one-dimensional joke of a character that's about as appealing as salmonella poisoning. They can't even get a guest-spot right, as they bring in somebody with real character like Kathy Najimy, then have her do... absolutely nothing? WTF?
In even more television news... Justified Season Two... wow. Just wow.
In Twitter news... SWOOOOOON!
BROOKE ALVAREZ! Guess I better hose down that goat's blood off my altar and take that photo!
And, on that stalker-ish note... it's almost midnight, so I suppose I should see just how big a mistake that afternoon nap was.
This morning I had waffles for breakfast. Isn't that what Sundays are for?
• Spy. A couple of people brought to my attention that Google Books has put some issues of Spy online for your reading pleasure! One of my favorite magazines of all time, Spy was the ultimate repository for satire writing, and had some of the most biting pranks and hoaxes ever committed. But this did not preclude Spy from tackling some serious matters in pop culture and politics as well. Hopefully Google will continue adding issues until all of them are online... that would save me from having to dig mine out of storage. If you want to take a look at what all the fuss was about, click here to visit Spy on Google Books!
• Endangered. It's that time of year when television shows are reaching their do-or-die point in the ratings. If not renewed soon, some shows I like are in danger of being cancelled...
Sadly, odds are that most of these shows are not long for this world. They'll probably be replaced with shitty "reality" shows that are inexplicably popular with the public at large. Heaven help us all.
• 18. After seeing the Mars landing hoax conspiracy movie Capricorn One on VHS rental sometime in the 80's, my mind was pretty much blown. It encouraged me to think about what actual cool stuff our government might be keeping from us. Area 51 was a good start. But the various moon landing conspiracy theories floating around became my obsession. Not so much that the landings were faked... but about what happened while we were up on the moon. And there were a lot of theories. Everything from alien encounters to extraterrestrial artifacts to weapon installations to secret missions. It was a tin-hat wearing dream come true. And now a new horror movie, Apollo 18, is being released to reveal the secret of NASA's "cancelled" final moon mission... and why we've never gone back...
It's been shot "documentary-style" (think Blair Witch Project) which I usually loathe in movies, but I just might make an exception this time if the reviews don't suck. The cheesy but intriguing trailer is on QuickTime, and the release date is March 4th.
Annnnd... I only have time for three bullets today. There are many things to be done yet today.
A while back I got a phone call from Charter Communications, my cable company. It was a sales guy telling me that I could lock-in a great rate for more services than I currently had at less money than I was currently paying! "Wow! How can you do that?" I asked. "You're a good customer, and we want to keep you!" they said. "But what's the catch? How can I get more for less?" I asked. "No catch!" they said... "You just have to agree to a two-year contract!" I kept asking questions but, at every turn I was assured that my total bill would be less money.
Confident I had covered all the bases, I said "Sign me up!"
It ended up not being true, of course.
The first time I called because my bill was higher, I was told the increase was temporary because I made a change in the middle of a billing cycle. Today when I called a second time because my latest charge was still higher than I had been paying, they said the amount was correct. They didn't give a crap that I was promised something different. The situation was all my fault, and if I wanted to change my services, I'd have to pay $190 to get out of my contract or just suck it up and pay the extra $40 a month that I had "agreed" to.
They obviously don't know me very well. This wasn't some case of "buyer's remorse" over an agreement I made ten months ago and suddenly had second-thoughts over. This was a second complaint over an agreement I just made. I was LIED to. Twice. So here was MY plan...
I may have to pay $190 to get out of the contract of lies Charter had trapped me into... but they would be the ones paying for it. And I started my dissatisfaction campaign by posting this on Twitter:
Which was almost immediately replied to by a Charter Cable Twitter rep...
And... problem solved. Everything was fixed.
This was astounding. Somebody at Charter actually gets it. Somebody at Charter knows the value of customer service. Somebody at Charter understands that righting a wrong and keeping a customer happy is in the company's best interest. How? Let's take a look at my value as a customer to Charter Communications from the perspective of PHONE support vs. TWITTER support...
|MY CUSTOMER VALUE...|
CHARTER PHONE SUPPORT
|MY CUSTOMER VALUE...
CHARTER TWITTER SUPPORT
|AFTER ONE YEAR||$190||$1,529.16|
|AFTER TWO YEARS||$190||$3,058.32|
|AFTER THREE YEARS||$190||$4,587.48|
|AFTER FOUR YEARS||$190||$6,116.64|
|AFTER FIVE YEARS||$190||$7,645.80|
The customer service agent in phone support would have gotten the $190 early termination fee... and nothing more. Ever. On top of that, they would have had a very unhappy ex-customer who would spend their every waking hour thinking up ways of telling everybody and anybody how they had been lied to and cheated by their company.
The customer service agent on Twitter, however, now has a happy customer worth thousands of dollars to their bottom line over the next several years.
That's a $190 one-time payment vs. $1,529.16... ANNUALLY.
How do companies like this stay in business when parts of their organization don't understand the long-time value of a customer? All they see is policy regardless of consequence. They don't care what promises were made, they only care about what excuses they can make as to why they were made. They don't care about solving a problem, they only care about passing blame as to who is responsible for it.
I was told my bill would be less than I was paying.
And, in the end, it wasn't even the money that was important to me. It was the principle.
I'm not some whack-job trying to weasel my way out of an agreement I made. I'm a customer who was made a promise that was not kept. Every attempt to rectify the situation was met with more broken promises or outright defiance. Until I posted a complaint to Twitter and somebody at Charter saw it and decided my value as a customer was worth saving. And it's refreshing to know that somebody at Charter gives a crap about saving their revenue stream.
Because it only takes 131 customers.
Saving just 131 customers like me over a 5-year period is worth over a MILLION DOLLARS to Charter Communications. With money like that at stake, it's just a pity that George Vick isn't in charge of all customer service at Charter.
Because after what I've been through today with their phone "support," I have to seriously question whether the company will even be around in five years.
UPDATE: For those who asked, the problem was solved by removing all the extra "premium" channels and taking me back to the package I used to have, which is fine by me. I never cared about having the extra channels, and the only reason I added them in the first place was because I was told my monthly charge would be less money than I was currently paying (with two-year contract). Am I happy that Charter has a sales force which lies as a matter of policy? No. But I otherwise like the service I had at the price I was paying, so getting me back to where I was at is all that matters to me.
Welcome to a fabulous OSCARS EDITION of Bullet Sunday!
• Intro! This new tradition of inserting Oscar hosts into scenes from the nominated films just keeps getting better and better. Using technology from Inception, James Franco and Anne Hathaway go into the mind of former Oscar host Alec Baldwin to learn the secrets of hosting the show. The fact that they managed to work in Back to the Future at the end was just the icing on the cake...
Oscar telecast ©2011 by ABC Television
• The Winners! Not surprisingly, there were a few awards passed out that I felt could have gone elsewhere, but overall I was happy with the winners. Here's my break-down...
• Wrap-Up! Though James Franco faltered a bit at times, overall he and Anne Hathaway did a surprisingly good job hosting the show. The musical performances were mercifully short and half-way decent (including Gwyneth Paltrow, who I thought did a pretty good job considering she's not a professional singer... it was crazy seeing all the online haters unload on her while she performed). I also thought the presentations went very well. It will be interesting to see who hosts next year.
Annnnd... I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, so I guess that's all she wrote. See you at the movies.
After the sheer awesomeness of my Saturday, I did the best I could to get through Bullet Sunday.
• She's a Wonder. And so the most perfect woman on earth, Elizabeth Hurley, has been tapped for a role in David E. Kelly's Wonder Woman project. Apparently she'll be playing Wonder Woman's far more beautiful and classy arch-nemesis, Veronica Cale. I, of course, think she would be perfect as Wonder Woman herself, hard as it will be for anyone to fill Linda Carter's red boots. She was Wonder Woman. Even with Elizabeth Hurley, I have to say I am still very, very nervous about the show. If David E. Kelly can resist the urge to add his stupid-ass Allie McBeal craziness to the mix, it might have a chance...
• Pretty Cool. Gotta hand it to Miley Cyrus, she handled her guest-hosting on Saturday Night Live like a champ last night. She not only managed to get in a few digs on Lindsay Lohan, but spent a lot of time poking fun at herself as well. Of course, what every SNL fan was waiting for was seeing if she would make an appearance on Vanessa Bayer's ongoing "Miley Cyrus Show" skit. Surprisingly, she did... as Justin Bieber!
I was secretly hoping that Billy Ray Cyrus would make an appearance as himself here, but Jason Sudeikis did his usual hysterical impersonation. A couple sketches fell flat for me (The Sound of Music, really?)... but overall it was a pretty funny episode and Miley did a great job. I still miss Hannah Montana.
• Upgrade. Microsoft has an entire website devoted to killing off their piece of shit web browser, Internet Explorer 6...
Their suggestion is to have you upgrade to Internet Explorer 8.
If I may be so bold, a suggestion: bypass Internet Explorer 8 and upgrade directly to an even better browser...
Or, don't stop upgrading there... get rid of Windows and step up to Macintosh! It's so much nicer up here!
• Downgrade. Meeee-ow! My review of the latest "upgrade" to Twitter for iPhone...
Developers always seem to play the victim by saying things like "Well, nobody wants to pay for apps anymore, so we use ads. SOMEBODY has to pay, so cut us a break!" — And that's a very good point... except you can't expect people to be happy when the app's functionality is impaired by the ads. Either find a way to insert ads in a way that's not going to shit all over your app, or just charge for the damn thing.
• Go for the Gold. One last thing before I go... this morning I discovered Rold Gold "Everything Bagel" Pretzels. Deeeelicious. They kind of reminds me of Chex Mix, but more subtle and without the fishy Worcestershire sauce to mess things up. Still really good flavor though. This is a great find because it's really tough to find the Snyders of Hanover flavors I like around here...
And there's Bullet Sunday for you. Until next week... stay classy, blogosphere.
I can't believe it's the two-hundred-and-twenty-seventh episode of Bullet Sunday! That's like 60% of a full year's worth!
• Needle! Today is the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking for Seattle's Space Needle. Originally created for the 1962 "Century 21 World's Fair," it quickly became a symbol of the city (if not the entire Pacific Northwest). What I love about the structure is that it doesn't look dated despite its classic 1960's styling. On top of that, it's a beautiful cornerstone of the Seattle skyline and a cool tourist attraction...
I've visited dozens of times, and the view from the top still takes my breath away. If you'd like to read more about the history of Seattle's landmark, there's a nice wrap-up at Wikipedia.
• Happy! What's kind of a mash-up between Friends and Coupling but somehow manages to be uniquely hilarious television in its own right? It's Happy Endings! I have to admit, I thought the whole "group-of-six-friends-half-girls-half-boys" sitcom concept had been played into the ground (usually to horrible effect). But I was dead wrong. Happy Endings is funny, funny, stuff. The premiere episode is available for FREE on iTunes and well-worth your time to check out...
• Proof? On the other end of the spectrum... the new television drama Body of Proof is just so bad. Dana Delany is great as a surgeon-turned-medical-examiner, but just about every other character on the show is total crap. The writing is so lame that it's almost comical. It's as if they set out to make everybody be intentionally annoying and unwatchable. I was hoping for another
• Collectorz. If you're a Macintosh whore who wants to enter your comic book collection in a computer database, you're pretty much screwed. Years ago I used a program called "ComicBase" which was originally created for Macs, but then they switched to Windows and dropped development for the Mac version (nice!). Over the years there's been a few new programs for Mac, but they haven't been very feature-rich. Enter "Comic Collector for Mac OS X" which is coming May 17th. It looks fairly complete and very affordable ($29.95 or $49.95 for a "pro" version)...
It pulls data and cover images off their web server, and allows for quick and easy barcode entry. In anticipation of its release, I've been using a trial membership for their companion "cloud" service: "Comic Book Collector Connect." It's a little cumbersome for adding comics, but still very cool. What's sweet about this company is that even if their OS X software sucks, I can still use the online Connect service to index my collection (unlimited access and database size for $19.95 a year!). If you're a fellow Mac whore with a comic book collection, check it out.
• AirPrint. One of the more serious omissions from iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.) was printing. Apple finally addressed this a while back with a technology they call AirPrint. The problem is that this "feature" is half-baked at best. First you either have to buy an AirPrint-Enabled printer or find a 3rd party solution which makes your non-Airport printer be recognized by the iOS. And then the fun begins... figuring out which apps can actually print worth a crap. Most don't. Apple's "Photos" app, for example, doesn't allow you to fill the page with your photo when you print it. Instead, it prints a tiny image in the middle of the page. Other apps print okay, but the lack of control over orientation, scale, and placement is a serious detriment. Only apps which are specifically designed for printing (like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) seem to produce expected results. This is kind of embarrassing for Apple. Usually they don't release something until it's polished and functional, and AirPrint isn't there yet. Still... it is a promising glimpse of the functionality that devices like these will need in a "post PC world."
Annnnnd... now it's time for the new Burn Notice movie... The Fall of Sam Axe! As a huge fan of Bruce Campbell, it's must-see TV.
The past two weeks have been a blissful whirlwind of not traveling.
I had thought that I would be starting up again next Thursday... but just found out I got the date wrong. It's the Thursday after that. Ordinarily this would be a good thing. I've been killing myself to get caught up with life, and now I can relax a bit because I've got a whole extra week. Except... now I've got to be in two different cities on the same day, so I've got to reschedule a bunch of stuff. That's always makes for good times.
Guess I'll worry about that on Monday.
Anyway... today was set aside for Spring cleaning. I took absolutely everything out of my bedroom so I can dust, wash, vacuum, and scrub. It's a lot of work, but it makes living with allergies a bit more comfortable. My intent was to put everything back after cleaning, but now I'm tired and don't feel like it. This means there's crap piled everywhere. Except in front of the television. I cleared a path so I could watch last night's episode of Fringe.
And, of course... NEW DOCTOR WHO!!
I never much cared for the latest incarnation of The Doctor until that wonderful, magical, touching, amazing episode with Vincent VanGogh, then I became pretty much obsessed with the show. Again. It doesn't hurt that Steven Moffat is running the series now. I've been a huge fan of his since Coupling.
They filmed some of the episode here in the USA and it was a very good... albeit slightly disturbing... season opener...
Something about aliens which you can only remember seeing while you're looking at them (then forget about them the minute you're not) is a frickin' fantastic concept. The cliffhanger ends with a question... "How can you fight an enemy you can't remember?" A very good question! I'll be watching to find out next Saturday.
And now I suppose now I had better go at least put my bed back together so I have a place to sleep tonight.
What a fun way to spend a Saturday night!
It's a "Holy crap it feels like somebody shot me in the back!" kind of Bullet Sunday this week. Fortunately I have really good drugs to put me out of my misery so I can (hopefully) get some healing sleep tonight. Let's see how many bullets I have in me before I drop off...
• Quandary. As somebody who attempts to live my life according to Buddhist precepts, it is not possible for me to take joy in the death of any living thing. So call me unAmerican if you wish, but all I can think of today is the chain of events which began on September 11, 2001 and the horrific loss of life which continues to this day because of it. One more death on the pile... no matter how much one believes it was deserved... is not going to suddenly make everything better in my head. And I'm not sure how I should feel about that. About the only thing I can feel right now is regret. Not that an asshole terrorist and mass-murderer is dead, but that humanity has failed so badly for us to have gotten to this point.
• Accomplished? I keep running across people on the internet who are amused that today's news falls precisely eight years after a banner above former president George W. Bush's head declared "Mission Accomplished"...
Am I a tin-hat wearing conspiracy nut if I admit that the first thing that came to mind after first reading this was "Wow. That's really convenient!" Because, seriously, if you wanted to (further) embarrass President Bush over the failure to capture Public Enemy #1 on his watch, wouldn't this be the ideal way to do it? Hmmmmmm. Nah, it's most certainly just a coincidence. Especially when you consider Hitler's death was also announced on a May 1st. Irony can be so ironic sometimes.
• Who? Can I just say that Dr. Who under the brilliant mind of Stephen Moffat has evolved to one of the single best shows ever to air on television? I'm not kidding. The two-part season opener was jaw-droppingly amazing in every possible way...
If you have even a passing interest in really good sci-fi, this show is a must-see.
• Magnum! Another import that's well worth checking out? Magnum ice cream bars! It was just over two years ago I mentioned their advertising featuring Eva Longoria when I was in Germany...
And now they have arrived here in the USA! If you happen across the "Almond" variety, which is covered in chocolate with crazy-delicious large chunks of almonds, it is about the best-tasting thing you'll ever eat. Unless you're allergic to nuts. Then it's about the most deadly thing you'll ever eat.
Annnd... my meds are starting to kick in. That's kind of a bummer, because I didn't get to all the bullets I had jotted down. Oh well. Something to blog about tomorrow, I guess.
I was going to write a rant over how much I hate hypocritical bullshit, but I don't have the energy.
Most of my energy tonight was spent being delirious with relief that David E. Kelley's totally stupid "re-imagining" of Wonder Woman wasn't picked up by NBC. Yes, I am positively thrilled that the project was killed off. If you're not going to make an actual show about Wonder Woman, then don't make any Wonder Woman show at all. That would just set the character up for massive failure, dooming any chance of the "real" Wonder Woman ever ending up on TV or in a movie.
As I've said a billion times now, translating comic books to other media only works when you're faithful to the source material. Deviate from what makes the character iconic and beloved in the first place, and you're just fucking everything up...
Maybe one day they'll stop dicking around and get serious about fulfilling my childhood Lynda Carter Wonder Woman fantasies with something new, but I'm not holding my breath.
I don't have the energy to hold my breath, and should probably just go to bed.
For some reason I am a bit jetlagged after my short trip to Hawaii. On the surface, this seems ridiculous. It's a measly three hour time difference, which is nothing compared to a lot of my travels. My guess is that my crazy work hours are messing with my sleep schedule, and Hawaii just exaggerated everything.
If there's an upside, it's that I'm actually sleeping more than my usual 3-4 hours.
Unfortunately, this additional sleep is happening at 5:00pm.
Which means I am wide awake from 10:00pm and don't get tired again until 7:00am when it's time to get ready for work. This morning I was so tired that I forgot to zip my pants up as I headed out the door. They fell down just as I was opening my car door, leaving me pantsed in the parking lot...
Luckily I also forgot it was Commando Friday, or else I could have been arrested for indecent exposure.
All the television shows I watch have had their fate announced. Since I am a total television whore, this is important stuff. Since most people are not total television whores and couldn't care less, I've put my thoughts about it all in an extended entry...
I'm too exhausted to get excited about the season finales of the TV shows I watch. I fell asleep ten minutes into Big Bang Theory tonight. I woke in time for Grey's Anatomy, but was nodding off at the end. Day after day of nothing but work is finally catching up to me.
Either that, or this season's finales just aren't very exciting.
Anyway... the new 2011-2012 television schedule has finally been announced. This means I can make the chart I'll use to program my DVR this Fall. If you don't give a crap about television, then you'll probably want to skip the extended entry. Otherwise...
ZOMG! IT'S BULLET SUNDAY!
• Stars. I swear, if there is a single thing in this world you can count on outside of death and taxes, it's that any time Justin Timberlake hosts Saturday Night Live you're in for one hell of a show. The May 21st season finale was no exception. Not surprisingly, I haven't laughed this much at an SNL episode since the last time he hosted. What was surprising is that musical guest Lady Gaga made a couple very funny appearances throughout the show. I may not be the biggest fan of her music, but she killed it last night in the sketches. As if that weren't enough, we got another The Barry Gibb Talk Show installment too...
Your eyes do not deceive you... that's Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson
making cameos on the funniest SNL Digital Short since Dick in a Box!
Can I just say that I long for the day that the real Barry and Robin Gibb make an appearance on The Barry Gibb Talk Show? I think the universe would probably explode from so much awesomeness.
• Dogs. As I was spending my entire paycheck on a bag of groceries last week, I noticed that MorningStar Farms Veggie Corn Dogs were back. I used to love them, but they were recalled and discontinued a couple years back because of of a heinous contamination at the manufacturing facility. Apparently that's (hopefully) been all sorted out, because I've discovered a new magical formula...
Is there anything that Grey Poupon Mild & Creamy Mustard doesn't taste good on?
• Bears. One of the single coolest people on earth would have to be Bear Grylls. The guy has racked up so many amazing feats that he makes ordinary men look like hamsters by comparison. It all started when he was the youngest person to climb Mount Everest at age 23. Since then he's continued to make awesome expeditions, and even went on to become a best-selling author and (somewhat controversial) television star...
And yet, this morning as I was watching television, I heard something which puts all of Bear Gryll's astounding adventures to shame. His ultimate feat of coolness has to be naming his three kids Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry...
"Holy shit, dude! My name is MARMADUKE!" (Photo by Rob Loud - Getty Images)
I don't know how to feel about Jesse. On one hand, he side-stepped a landmine by not being saddled with a name like Marmaduke or Huckleberry. On the other hand, he doesn't have a kick-ass moniker that guarantees him a reality TV show. Oh well. Goes to show that just when you think Bear Grylls can't possibly be cooler than he already is, something comes along to prove you wrong.
• Trains. Dear iOS developers... I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR GAMES, SO STOP MAKING AWESOME NEW APPS I WANT TO PLAY! Especially all these terrific new board game apps for iPad. As a board game addict, it is really cool to see great games like Neuroshima Hex and Carcassonne being released, but now Days of Wonder has gone and dropped the awesome Ticket to Ride game for a mere $6.99 (my board game version cost $25!)... and it is stellar. It's better than stellar. It actually improves on the original by making it easier and more straightforward to play. But they didn't stop there, they made it Game Center aware, so you can play against other people anywhere in the world...
The object of the game is to build railroads. You do this by drawing Destination Tickets which give you two cities to connect. You then play colored Train Cards to build your routes, with longer routes being worth bigger points. It's easy to learn, but the strategy is where the fun is. Do you complete your own route, or block your opponent from completing theirs? Do you risk drawing another Destination Card to increase your score, or do you play it safe because you're running low on train cars? The variations on play are endless but, just in case you get bored, you can add expansion sets with an in-game purchase.
This is the future of board games right here. You can play against your friends no matter where you are, or connect with other players online when you don't have somebody to play with! Granted, it can be tricky to get a Game Center game started up, but other than that it's a flawless app. About the only thing I miss is the socializing that happens when playing a "real" game in person (talking smack over chat isn't the same!), but that's a minor detail when you consider how hard it is to get people together to play in "Real Life." For iPad users, Ticket to Ride gets my highest possible recommendation!
• Trolls. This past week my blog was linked to by some kind of newsletter from a wacky organization seeking to "protect marriage." Since the post they linked to has me supporting marriage equality and calling equality opponents "weak," I suppose it was only a matter of time. I got around a dozen comments, all of which were deleted because they were nasty or didn't contribute to the conversation in any meaningful way. Apparently, their only argument against marriage equality was to bad-mouth me, which is not commenting. It's just name-calling. Somehow I am not surprised that this is all they have left, considering a recent Gallup poll now has the majority of Americans supporting gay marriage for the first time...
This has me envisioning a future where Americans look back at this point in time and think "What the fuck was that all about?" Which will be nice, because I can't for the life of me understand what the big deal is over a person's sexuality not restricting their rights. If somebody writes left-handed, you don't see right-handed people demanding lefties can't get married... so who gives a fuck about two consenting gay adults getting married?
A lot of very insecure people who are worried that they are going to be tempting into getting gay-married, apparently. Which brings me to something of sheer awesomeness tweeted to me by @Galaxyfighter (Not Safe for Work)...
And on that note, I suppose I should be getting back to work.
Sunday is the word, Sunday is the word, is the word that you heard. It's got bullets it's got meaning. Sunday is the time, is the place is the motion. Sunday is the way we are feeling...
• Pudding. A couple of people on Twitter were nice enough to let me know that today is NATIONAL CHOCOLATE PUDDING DAY! Not that I really need a reason to celebrate. For me, EVERY DAY IS NATIONAL CHOCOLATE PUDDING DAY! It has been for as long as I can remember...
And doesn't look to be changing any time soon...
Even Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey love chocolate pudding...
But really, who doesn't? Here's wishing you chocolate pudding dreams on National Chocolate Pudding Day!
• Columbo. As a huge, huge, massively huge, mega-fan of television's Columbo, I was very sad to learn that its star, Peter Falk, had died. For anybody who hasn't seen it, Columbo was a murder mystery show with a twist. The twist being that the audience knows exactly who the murderer is and how they did it. The fun was watching Lt. Columbo putting the pieces together. It was formula, but it worked. And the reason it worked was because Lt. Columbo in his rumpled trench coat and simplistic manner was never taken seriously by anybody... even though he was always the smartest person in the room...
Several episodes are available on Netflix via Instant Watch, and I can't recommend them highly enough. Many of them are quite dated, but still a fun watch. For an even bigger treat, rent the DVDs of the television movies that came after the show ended. Columbo just got better and better as Peter Falk got older. A part of me was always hopeful he'd do another movie one day, but, alas... rest in peace Mr. Falk.
• Cap. I swear, the more I see of the upcoming Captain America film, the more I want to see it. The latest trailer is beyond epic...
Between the awesomeness that has been Iron Man, Thor, Incredible Hulk, and now Captain American... the very idea of the upcoming Avengers movie makes me giddy as a schoolgirl. Why, why, why can't DC Comics get their shit together like Marvel has with their characters?
• Colan. Speaking of death and comics, I was also very sad to learn that longtime comic book artist Gene Colan had died. The man had drawn dozens upon dozens of books over the years, but the one I most associate him with was a short-lived series called Night Force. It was just so... different... from other comics of the day, and everything about it was interesting...
Colan was probably best-known for being the artist on Tomb of Dracula and Daredevil, but it's Night Force which I liked best. Rest in peace, Mr. Colan.
And... I've still got bullets, but it's time to get back to work. Hopefully bullets don't spoil and will keep for a week? Otherwise, look forward to stale bullets next week.
Getting a whole six hours sleep last night (pharmaceutically-induced, alas) was everything I dreamed it would be.
Anyway, just a few things I keep forgetting to review...
• Chilly Pad! A while back I was shopping for a soldier at AnySoldier.com (which I talk about here and here) when I was told about a product by Frogg Toggs called "Chilly Pad." It was billed as some kind of "cooling towel" that sucks the heat away via evaporation. That sounded like a load of crap to me, but who am I to deny a soldier something to make his life easier... especially if it only costs $12? Just for kicks, I ordered one for myself too.
Imagine my shock when, holy crap, it actually works!
Just pour some water on it and be amazed as the super-evaporation cells go to work, causing the darn thing to become cool to the touch! Amazing! For the ultimate test, I wore one around my neck on my trip to Waverly Hills where there was a heat index of 105° and was pretty darn comfortable the entire time. I now keep one in the trunk of my car and will always have them on hand to send with my AnySoldier care packages. Worth checking out! I got mine at Sports Authority, but I'm sure they're available other places too.
• Spotify! Europeans have been enjoying the music mega-service Spotify for years, but Americans have been left out. Until now. For those unfamiliar, Spotify has a massively huge database of music available for streaming. In order to get at it, you have to sign up for an account. Free accounts are ad-supported and have a song limit. Unlimited accounts ($4.99/mo.) are ad-free, allow unlimited songs to be streamed, and have added sharing and organizational features. Premium accounts ($9.99/mo.) have even more features (like the ability to listen offline and stream to your mobile phone) and better sound quality. Free accounts weren't available yet, so I went for the $4.99/mo. Unlimited package.
The biggest selling point of Spotify is that they have a plain crazy-huge collection of songs. They pretty much boast that they have any track you want...
Except they really don't. There are many songs both obscure and popular I wanted to listen to which aren't available. That alone is a bummer, but what makes it unbearable is that a big chunk of their library is karaoke versions of songs, and every frickin' search you make is literally overwhelmed with karaoke crap I have absolutely no interest in.
Here's an example. Today I wanted to listen to Miley Cyrus's The Time of Our Lives (don't judge until you listen to it... it's a nice song!). Spotify doesn't have it available. What they do have is four karaoke versions...
WTF? And it gets worse when you do more generic searches like "Hall & Oates" where you get all kinds of karaoke shit mixed in. After a while, I figured out that you can do restrictive searches to cut out karaoke. Well, most karaoke... not all karaoke songs are described properly...
This should be an option in preferences to get rid of karaoke tracks if you don't want to see them, but I couldn't find one so I have to instead add "-karaoke" to every search, which is a pain in the ass. Other irritations? The Spotify app is clutzy and unintuitive compared to the iTunes interface I'm used to. I've also experienced "outages" of a sort, where certain artists simply will not play. Today I tried for quite a while to listen to Weird Al's new Alpocalypse album without success.
As you might guess, my final verdict is more negative than positive. I will be happy to keep my free account for occasional ad-supported listening, but I'm going to cancel my $4.99 "Unlimited" membership. Perhaps eventually they'll address my issues and I'll find it worthwhile, but for now I'm giving it a pass.
• Suits! Burn Notice. White Collar. Covert Affairs. Fairly Legal. Psych. When it comes to successes, USA Network has a pretty good track record for airing some really good television shows. Because of this, I'm willing to give any new show they come up with a shot. Their latest, Suits, sounded good on paper... but I wasn't sure how it was going to play out on the screen...
The story premise is that of a very smart guy with a photographic memory, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams) who tries to escape his dicey past by going to work at a prestigious law firm. He passed the bar on a dare, but doesn't have a law degree. His new boss (played by Gabriel Macht) is impressed enough to hire him anyway. The result is an uneasy partnership that is beneficial to both of them, even if they have to hide Mike's true nature from everybody at the firm.
And it works.
It works very well.
The cast is fantastic (Gina Torres!), the writing is sharp, the stories are smart, and the show as a whole is entertaining. My only concern is how long they can keep the premise interesting. Will people eventually find out about Mike? Will his scary past catch up with him? In all honesty, it doesn't really matter, and I hope they don't keep hanging the show on them when there's no need to do so.
Right now? Highly recommended. Only time will tell if they can keep it that way.
• Fotopedia! If you're a fan of travel photography and have an iOS device, run... don't walk... to the iTunes Store and grab everything you can from Fotonauts. Their Fotopedia apps have always been great, but the new stuff they've been cranking out has been amazing. North Korea (free) and Dreams of Burma (free) are well worth your time... but their latest collaboration with National Geographic, Above France ($2.99) is stunning...
They work on iPhone but, obviously, have a better presentation on iPad. Highest possible recommendation.
And now... bed. And hopefully another night of half-way decent sleep.
I'm irritable this Bullet Sunday. But that's not surprising, I've been irritable all week. I really need to plan a vacation soon.
• Debt! As I type this, President Obama has announced an agreement has been reached on a deficit deal. It hasn't been approved by the three-ring-circus clown show we call the US Congress, but, well... formalities and all. Personally, I don't pretend to comprehend the political strategy of a president folding like a wet tissue yet again with an election coming up, but, well... politics and all.
• Runway! I am not a "reality television" fan. So many of them are nothing more than spoiled assholes acting like douchebags which I don't find entertaining at all. I still watch "the original" reality show, Survivor because the challenges are creative and fun... but "Housebitches of Beverly Hills," "Jersey Whores," (or whatever) and the rest are just garbage I have no interest in. And yet there are exceptions, as I kind of like the creativity to be found in Project Runway and Top Chef. Usually, these are kind of throw-away shows that I half-watch while working, but sometimes they surprise me.
And the new season of Project Runway has a big surprise... former Miss Trinidad and Tobago from the Miss Universe Pageant, Anya Ayoung-Chee, is competing!
Photo by Ian M.S. Royer (public domain)
It's surprising for a few reasons... 1) She only learned to sew four months ago, and yet is easily one of the most talented contestants. 2) She's rocking a mohawk and yet still looks brutally hot. 3) There's a sex tape floating around online.
Oh... and some of the other contestants are interesting too. And Tim Gunn is still there.
• Plus? I am a very casual Netflix customer. I rent maybe one DVD plus two or three Instant Watch shows a month... if that... which averages out to around $3 a rental ($9.99 a month), which is fine. But now the same plan is going to cost me $15.98 a month, or $5 a rental, which is absurd. Which is why I'll be "downgrading" to their "limited" plan which allows one or two DVDs a month and two hours of Instant Watch for $4.99. Problem is that a measly two hours of Instant Watch isn't going to cut it when I'm traveling and want to watch a couple movies. So I decided to test-drive Hulu Plus (also $4.99 a month) with a free trial membership to see if I can supplement my Netflix plan to get where I want to be.
Um. Yeah. Hulu is a steaming (streaming?) pile of shit.
First of all, they CONTINUE TO FORCE YOU TO WATCH ADS, EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE NOW PAYING THEM FOR THEIR SHIT! Ads to finance a FREE service, I get. But paying for ads? I don't think so. What's so high-larious is that Hulu has the balls to position their shitty ads as entertainment. Every time I clicked on "NO" when they asked "is this ad relevant to you?" (because no ad EVER WILL BE), they say "Thanks! We'll use your input to improve your ad experience." Shyeah. Right. "Experience." Though I guess getting kicked in the balls is an "experience," so whatever.
Isn't the giant Verizon ad intrusive enough without being forced to watch a video ad too?
Guess I'm going with iTunes video rentals. Non-HD movies are $2.99 ($3.99 for new releases) and TV shows are 99¢ which seems about right. And since I pay only for what I watch, I may end up saving money. Nice.
Netflix could have saved my business entirely by offering an option for $1 per hour streaming past their $4.90 plan. Now half the money (or more) I used to give them is going to Apple. Genius economic business plan, Netflix. Truly genius.
• Miley! It's no secret that I am a big Miley Cyrus fan (probably because I am such a huge Hannah Montana fan). Some of her songs are pop gold (The Time of Our Lives and Liberty Walk are beyond gold!). But here's the thing. The thing is this. Miley isn't just big poppy fun. She's also smart, compassionate, respectful, and open-minded.
On Twitter the other day, she tweeted about getting a marriage equality tattoo on her finger. One of her fans tossed up Bible verse to say that Miley was wrong about gay marriage. Miley replied that only God can judge people, and love was love. This (naturally) caused Miley's fans to attack the Bible quoting fan (who calls themselves "@MileyCyrusLuver"). To which Miley replied thusly...
Dude everyone lay off @MileyCyrusLuver Love u! Everyone is entitled 2 opinions! 'if u don't stand 4 something you'll fall for anything.' :)
I mean, seriously. Miley Cyrus has a better head on her shoulders than most adults.
With each passing day I grow more horrified at the polarization of this country. People don't respectfully debate any more... they just hate. And it just keeps getting worse and worse. Then here comes Miley who, with a single tweet, completely restores my faith in the future of humanity...
Could not possibly be a bigger fan right now.
Though, given my luck with celebrities, she'll be arrested for burning down a church while high on meth after kicking a puppy in front of the paparazzi, so there's that.
And, on that happy note, I get to go back to work!
YEEEEEEEEE-HAW! It's a rootin' tootin' six-shootin' Bullet Sunday!
• Masked! I am not such a big fan of the new TNT series Franklin & Bash. Nobody likes a smart-ass more than I do, but the lead characters all too often cross the line from smartassery to dumbassery, and I spend much of each episode rolling my eyes back into my head...
Judge: You're asking to bring a corpse into my courtroom?
Franklin: No! That would be ridiculous!
Bash: We want to bring the court to him. Jury field-trip to the morgue!
Prosecutor: A field trip. Really. You sure you got signed permission slips from your moms?
Franklin: Actually, we got one from yours.
Bash: Last night!
Bwah ha ha ha! From your mom... LAST NIGHT! How high-larious is that?!
Who wants to listen to lame, cliche, stupid-ass dialogue like this? However, the show has Malcolm McDowell in it, which is one of my favorite actors, so I keep watching.
This dedication to Franklin & Bash was rewarded in their season finale which featured a guest-appearance by the delicious Tricia Helfer! But the bigger surprise was a guest-star playing a masked Mexican wrestler named "Ultimo" involved in a lawsuit...
Until he removed his mask at the end, I had no idea who it was. And this drives me nuts, because I should have known! I'm a big fan of the actor! (SPOILER! Highlight the inviso-text if you want to know: Danny Trejo). Oh well. The series has been renewed, so I'm hoping that the writers go more "smart-funny" in season two.
• Roar! I finally did a clean install of Lion on my crippled MacBook. I was going to attempt this with the "recovery partition" that Lion makes on your hard drive, but decided instead to start over from scratch by making a bootable Lion Installer on a USB drive. Cut to a half-hour later, and my computer was operating "normally" again. I still have some real problems with the way Lion does certain things and some of the choices that Apple made, but at least I have a useable computer. Now starts the scary task of reinstalling my software in the hopes that one of the programs I rely on wasn't what was causing all the problems.
• Hidden! And speaking of installing my software... I ran into something new in Lion that I can't figure out. Why has Apple decided to hide the "library" folder in a user's home directory? At first I thought it was to protect all the settings, preferences, and support files from being tampered with... which I kinda get... but then why wouldn't they hide the "library" folder for the System? In any event, this makes it tough for people to transfer their prefs or delete faulty prefs when there's a problem. Fortunately, you can show hidden files in the terminal with...
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -bool true
And you can hide them again with...
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -bool false
• Wrong! Since I haven't installed Photoshop back on my laptop yet, I started up Apple's photo manager/editor Aperture 3. All I needed was to crop that wrestler photo, so it wasn't a big deal. Except it was. I cropped the image to 500 x 330 like I wanted...
But when I open it... not so much...
Which finds me once again wondering who in the hell is beta-testing Apple's shit. The more I use their software lately, the more problems I run across. Problems which should have easily been caught during beta testing. I mean, seriously, if you were in charge testing of testing the crop tool, wouldn't you VERIFY that it actually crops to the size that it said it cropped to? Wouldn't that be job one? This is beyond lame and has me wondering if Apple has gotten too big to give a fuck anymore (see: Microsoft).
• Reed! A while back, a company called "Black Pixel" bought out the awesome feed reader I use, NetNewsWire. They promised to give us a road-map of future released after WWDC back in June... but... nothing. So I decided to check out the Mac version of the feed reader I use on my iPhone, Reeder. It's nice. It's polished. But I couldn't find a "next unread" shortcut when reading through my full list. This is a pretty basic feature, so now I'm looking elsewhere. Sometimes "progress" can really suck.
• Cloud! I have entirely too many computer files. So many that I could never store them all on my laptop. So I went and signed up for DropBox, thinking I would be getting a magical hard drive in the sky where I could remotely access my files without taking up local hard drive space. WRONG! DropBox doesn't have a cloud storage option... anything you put there is mirrored on your hard drive which, while useful in some cases, is the opposite of what I wanted. Sure you have the ability to not sync certain folders, but then you have to either sync them when you want to use them (a huge waste of time and bandwidth) or use their web browser interface (slow and inconvenient). Enter ExpanDrive! Available for both Mac & Windows, this nifty app can mount remote volumes (such as FTP or Amazon S3) as a local drive which acts the exact same as a drive plugged into your computer. It works shockingly well, and assures me that I can have easy access to my files even if I don't have room for all of them on my Mac. If you have a need for such a thing, there's a free 30-day trial available for download.
And, on that happy note, I now get to sort through a batch of crap that I took out of my storage unit a couple months back. That aught to be a boat-load of fun.
Looking at old photos from the 1960's & 70's is always guaranteed fun times because of the insane mainstream fashions that were prevalent in the day. There wasn't a color or pattern too crazy to be used, and it's only now that we can look back and say "What the fuck was everybody thinking?
Here's just a few examples of the awesome couture du jour from my childhood...
Pretty deranged, right?
More and more while watching Project Runway I feel as though the stuff I was wearing back then was actually more fashion-forward than the ridiculous shit than some of the contestants seem to come up with. Last night's "Stilts Challenge" was no exception...
And then there are times while watching the show that I seriously think that Heidi Klum should just take out a gun and shoot the "designers" for the sake of all humanity. I mean, I'm no fashion expert, but holy shit...
Somewhere out there, Tim Gunn is weeping for the future...
This week was the kick-off of the Republican presidential primaries at the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. This is important because, by now, you'd think that we'd finally start to get some insight as to what conservative presidential candidates are going to do to pull this country out of the death-spiral we're in. And I, for one, am anxious to hear about it.
So where is it?
All I heard out of the candidates every time I watched the television or clicked on a news site was three things...
Now, the first two I get. It's easy to point to the man in charge and blame him for everything... and nobody likes to pay taxes. But it's this third one that has me completely baffled. Why in the hell are the Republicans so fucking obsessed with the gays? What do they have to do with jobs, the economy, the debt crisis, or the price of tea in China? NOTHING! And yet the candidates just can't seem to shut up about them. Hell, Rick Santorum has based his entire fucking campaign on attacking marriage equality. First it was something about gay napkins wanting to be paper towels... then he was talking about a glass of gay water wanting to be a glass of beer. And it just gets crazier from there.
For the life of me, I can't understand how conservative politicians preach 'til they're blue in the face about wanting a smaller government that stays out of our lives... only to turn around and say that our government should regulate what two consenting adults do in their bedroom or who churches are allowed to marry.
I can only guess that this wacky bullshit is what their supporters want to hear (no matter how schizophrenic and absurd it sounds). Though it's hard to see how people can take them seriously when anti-gay conservatives keep getting busted in gay sex scandals (ooh... look... yet another one just broke the other day!).
But what truly mystifies me is how Republicans seem to want to tie themselves to a voter base that's diminishing with each passing day. How can you win an election that way? Are they really all so clueless about changing attitudes in this country? Do they really not understand that people are quickly becoming tired of hearing about the "evils of gay marriage" when they're jobless, broke, and have lost their home? Really? Really?
I dunno. Maybe they really are this clueless, and nobody has bothered to tell them?
Well, okay then. Candidates, I'm here to help. I help because I care. But mostly because I'm sick and tired of having this homophobic bullshit getting in the way of addressing ACTUAL ISSUES FACING THIS COUNTRY.
So here's a rundown of why we don't give a shit about your anti-gay agenda. And, because I am seriously worried about your being to grasp these very simple concepts, I'm including clips from my new favorite television show, Happy Endings, to help explain them. Enjoy!
(If you can't see the clips, you may need to open this entry in a web browser or install Quicktime, sorry!)
1) PEOPLE SUPPORT THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
There is a growing majority of people who are sick and tired of watching their gay friends, family, and neighbors being used as your political punching bag. And we vote. And we just want our gay friends to have a shot at happiness like everybody else...
2) ACTUAL STRAIGHT PEOPLE AREN'T AFFECTED BY WHO GAY PEOPLE MARRY.
The more you keep hammering away against equality, the more we have to question why you give a shit. The only reason you should give a flying fuck about somebody's sexuality, or what they do in bed, or who they marry is if you want to date them, sleep with them, or marry them...
3) YOUR BELIEFS DON'T GET TO DICTATE HOW TWO CONSENTING ADULTS LIVE THEIR LIVES.
This is a free country. You can believe whatever you want to believe. If you wish to believe that God would make it so somebody can to "choose to be gay," then turn around and send them to hell for it, that's your business. But, since this is a free country, your beliefs don't get to dictate how two consenting adults live their lives. Your attempts at making homosexuality "illegal" are antiquated, backwards, and sad. And a little funny, given that this is the year 2011 and all...
4) HANGING OUT WITH GAY PEOPLE DOESN'T MAKE YOU GAY.
When you talk about gays ruining society at every opportunity, but then want to pretend they don't exist if they're in the military, we have to question your sanity. Gay is not contagious. Sleeping in the same room as somebody who's gay isn't going to convert our entire military into an army of homosexuals...
5) THERE'S MORE TO PEOPLE THAN THEIR SEXUALITY.
You seem inexplicably fond of making it sound like homosexuals are somehow removed from society. As if who they sleep with is all they are. As if America is so small an idea that there couldn't possibly be room for anybody who doesn't think or act exactly like you do. But when it comes to jobs, the economy, our homes, our safety, our relationship with the world, and our freedom... we're all in this together. We live together. We work together. We play together. We rise together. We fall together...
So there you have it. And you're welcome.
Now you can abandon this doomed crusade against all things gay and focus your energies on telling us what we really need to know. Like how you plan on dealing with the real problems we face.
Given President Obama's popularity right now, it's your election to lose.
I threw my back out. Again. This is profoundly disappointing given that I just went through this four months ago. Hope you like your bullets pain-killer-induced.
• Shower? And so the Perseid Meteor Shower peaked this weekend. Despite fairly clear skies, I saw none of it. Needless to say, I'm disappointed. But it's not like an insomniac such as myself has a better way to spend their time than looking for it, so I guess that's how it goes. My failure was somewhat offset by this amazing shot of what it looked like from space...
That shot was tweeted by astronaut Ron Garan from the International Space Station. If you're on Twitter, you must follow this guy, because he's always posting cool stuff like this. If you're not on Twitter, he makes it worth checking out.Also tweeting from space? Astronaut Clayton Anderson. And that's just the tip of the Twitter iceberg. Goddard Space Flight Center... plus dozens more cool NASA-related tweeters are waiting for you.
• Race? Few discussions can become polarizing and nasty quicker than talking about race relations in America. And yet it's a discussion that must be had. Lucky for us Kelly is willing to lead the charge, again, and this time it starts off (oddly enough) with a cake. Essential reading for the human race.
• Really? Yesterday I blogged about the blatant homophobic insanity that seems to be dominating Republican politics, and how a growing majority of Americans are sick and tired of anti-gay policy attacking our friends, family, and neighbors. The worst offender is Rick Santorum, who can't seem to open his mouth without spouting some kind of stupid homophobic crap. Second runner-up on the homophobia bandwagon is Michele Bachmann, who doesn't necessarily want to destroy the gays... she just wants to strip these "barbarians" of all their rights until they have no choice but to enroll in one of her husband's Christian counseling clinics to "pray the gay away."
And now we learn that she won the Ames Straw Pole in Iowa.
If she wins her party's nomination... if she somehow ends up as President of the United States... I can't fathom the ramification for human rights in this country. Hell, I can't fathom the continued existence of our country under her reign of batshit crazy...
At this rate, it looks like I'll be voting for Spongebob Squarepants for president.
• Dead? One of the bigger television surprises for me last season was The Walking Dead. As a loose adaptation of one of my favorite comic book series, it was almost too good to be true. A part of this was because they got the original creator, Robert Kirkman, to be a producer... but the lion's share of the credit could undoubtedly be dropped on the doorstep of Frank Darabont. He was the genius who developed the series for television and became executive producer for the series. Which went on to become a massive hit... with viewers and critics alike. So what does AMC Television do with their new-found pot of gold? Cut the budget and fire Darabont. Which just goes to show... television executives can be enormous douchebag dumbfucks regardless of which network they helm. How this will affect the quality of the second season is anybody's guess.
Photo by Greg Nicotero for AMCtv.com © 2011 TWD Productions, LLC
• Eureka? In more sad geek news, the SyFy Channel has cancelled EUReKA! This bizarre turn of events signals an end to original sci-fi programming on a network created for sci-fi programming. The best originals they have to offer now is supernatural drama like the Being Human remake or paranormal fantasy like Warehouse 13. "SyFy" is mostly reality television and pro wrestling now. I guess I shouldn't be surprised... MTV Music Television rarely plays music any more, why should this be any different?
And that's all the bullets for this week. Be sure to tune in next Bullet Sunday for more drug-indiced ramblings.
Yesterday was the five-year anniversary of Pluto being demoted from "planet" to "dwarf planet."
It all happened because astronomers are finding a shitload of planetoids orbiting the sun beyond Pluto's orbit... some of which are bigger than Pluto. Rather than declare that they're all planets, they decided instead to demote Pluto so none of them are planets.
Personally, I think it was a monumentally shitty decision. Yeah, it makes sense from a scientific classification standpoint, and I get that. But Pluto should have been grandfathered in and kept the planetary status it's had since 1930. The planetary status it had when I made my science fair project in Middle School...
What drives me a little nuts here is that a group of people made this awful decision with no involvement from any of us. There wasn't a vote. there wasn't any conversation. One day Pluto just wasn't a planet anymore.
Which made yesterday the fifth anniversary of SUCK!
Because yesterday was ALSO a monumental day for fans of the best new show from this past television season... Happy Endings!
ABC finally decided to bless us with the long-lost mysterious "missing episode" of the show. It wasn't the best of the bunch, but it was still better than most of the crap on television, so I have no idea why they skipped it in the first place.
In any event, it has me really looking forward to new episodes come September. As does this promo shot they've released...
And speaking of photos... the stuff leaking off the set for the new Avengers movie looks amazing...
If only DC Comics could get their shit together the way that Marvel Comics has. To see a Justice League movie that teams up Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash would be freakin' insanely awesome.
Or insanely stupid, if they got the wrong writer and director.
Perhaps I should be careful what I wish for.
After all these years, I still can't decide if I am a Star Wars guy or a Star Trek guy.
I guess I love them equally. Though they are very different at their core, the two franchises have followed similar arcs... both starting out with sheer brilliance, then descending into utter crap. Though Star Trek did make a stunning recovery with its 2009 film reboot, which had me leaning to Trek for a while. I don't suppose it's too much to hope that Star Wars will get a similar break? I dunno. There's talk of a television show and wacky rumors of a third trilogy, so one can only hope.
In any event, we've reached the 45th anniversary of Star Trek "The Original Series" which is pretty much the only Trek series that matters to me (as any long-time reader of this blog already knows)...
Though even the Next Generation was in the mix from time to time...
So happy 45th anniversary to Star Trek and thanks for everything!
Now if only JJ Abrams would get off his ass and give us another amazing movie real soon now.
Bet you never expected Bullet Sunday on Saturday! NOBODY expects Bullet Sunday on Saturday!
And didn't I just do a Bullet Sunday a couple minutes ago? Time, she is a flying. Probably because I am leaving for vacation in ten days. It's going to be a real struggle to get caught up with work and get myself organized by the time I leave.
• Adapt. And speaking of getting organized for my trip... for years there's been this one plug sitting unwrapped and unused in my Apple World Travel Adapter Kit...
I know this sounds kind of silly, but unwrapping the cellophane from that plug was a pretty emotional experience. This shit is about to get real, yo.
• Heroine. A couple weeks ago, the "Great House" on Sir Richard Branson's private island caught fire. Apparently a storm created by Hurricane Irene caused a lightning strike that burned the place to the ground. Nobody was hurt, but it was a beautiful structure and it's sad that it was destroyed. Sad, but not very interesting. I'll get to the interesting bit in a minute, but first a few photos from Necker Island...
Yes. Yes I know. What a shithole.
If you've got tens of thousands of dollars, you can rent a room for a night. That would put you in good company, because it's a coveted hangout for celebrities, royalty (Princess Diana was a guest), and the über-wealthy. One famous visitor who was there when the fire struck: Kate Winslet. Who, after making sure her kids were okay, ran back into the flames so she could carry out Branson's 90-year-old grandmother...
Beautiful, talented, and heroic.
But that's not the interesting bit. Winslet's ex-husband, director Sam Mendes, was supposed to be on American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked on 9/11 and crashed into The Pentagon. For some reason, he wasn't on the flight. One month later, Winslet was on a plane where somebody claiming to be a terrorist stood up and said that everybody was going to die. It apparently turned out to be a hoax of something. After that moment, Mendes and Winslet made a decision never to both be on the same flight together so if something happened, their kids wouldn't be left parentless.
I swear, just when I think there's nothing about the 9/11 tragedy that can surprise me, something utterly surprising comes along to prove me wrong. Until I read about the fire on Necker Island, I had no idea that Kate Winslet's life was touched by the terrorist attacks to this degree. But, then again, I suppose all our lives were in one way or another. Has it really been ten years?
• New? As a huge fan of Zooey Deschanel, I have been eagerly anticipating her new buzz-heavy TV show, New Girl, set to debut later this month. So imagine my surprise when I downloaded the first episode from an iTunes "sneak preview"... only to find that it is complete and total shit...
Holy crap did I hate this unbelievable turd of a show. Hate it.
How in the fuck they managed to take an infinitely adorable and likable person like Zooey Deschanel and turn her into a pathetic, annoying, unwatchable character is simply beyond my ability to fathom. She plays Jess, who is advertised as "Simply Adorkable" but I sure wasn't seeing any of that. When she gets dumped by her boyfriend in the first two minutes I was barely surprised. I was already annoyed with her after the first ONE minute. The story then takes the laughable (but not funny) "surprise turn" by having her move in with three single guys. Hilarity most definitely does not ensue.
Zooey's supporting players aren't much better. Deputy Leo (from Veronica Mars) plays a douchebag. And I'm not being judgmental here... he's literally a douche. His character is such a big douche that they have to make a "Douche Jar" for him to donate a dollar every time he does douchey things. Which is all the time. One of the douchey things he does is take his shirt off when he meets a girl because he thinks he's God's gift or something. His character's name is "Schmidt" which is used in place of "shit" in conversation to be funny. Ha ha ha. Not. Next up is Damon Wayans Jr. who plays "Coach," a fitness trainer with rage issues. The character has zero depth and is given nothing interesting to do. I can only guess that Wayans gets down on his knees every day and thanks the television gods that the brilliant Happy Endings got picked up for a second season so he doesn't have to come back to New Girl and play such a pathetic one-note character. I pity whomever they get to replace him. The last of Zooey's new roommates is "Nick" (played by Jake M. Johnson) who is somewhat likable and interesting (mostly because he's the only character with any depth to him) but ultimately not enough to compensate for everything else going wrong with this horrible show.
I cannot imagine that New Girl will last a full season. Even with Justin Long coming on-board as Zooey's romantic interest. It is so awkward, annoying, and blatantly not-funny that I have no idea who is going to want to watch it. Personally, I am hoping for a quick cancellation so the amazing Zooey Deschanel can go on to something better. Something much, much, better.
• Indebted. Is it possible to hate a movie to the point of despair, yet still love it at the same time? That pretty much sums up my take on The Debt, Helen Mirren's new film as directed by John Madden...
The movie is based on a 2007 Israeli film called HaHov ("The Debt"), which I can find nothing about, because any attempt to search for it on IMDB redirects to this version of The Debt. The story revolves around a former Mossad Nazi-Hunter named Rachel Singer (Mirren) who's past comes back to haunt her 30 years after a mission in East Germany went terribly wrong. The movie jumps back and forth between 1966 and 1997 as Singer recalls past events that changed her life, and their consequences on her future.
The problem with the film... the only problem, really... is that it is boring. Mind-numbingly boring. Stick your head in the microwave boring. Gouge out your spleen so you have something to do boring. I was dumbfounded at how incredibly slow, unnecessarily plodding, and just plain BORING this movie was. Far, far too much time was spent rehashing the past for no particular reason at all. Yes, there's a nice twist in there, but the set-up was so hideously drawn-out that I just didn't give a shit when we got there. They could have easily cut 75% of the hot boring mess from 1966 and used the time to make an interesting film about Rachel cleaning up that mess in 1997. That would have been an amazing, thrilling, exciting film. Instead you get mere glimpses of Mirren being kick-ass cool, which is simply not enough to save The Debt from the bland, banal, repetitive disaster it is.
Holy crap was the acting good. Helen Mirren didn't get nearly enough screen time, but her every second in the film is amazing. And it doesn't stop there. Jessica Chastain, who played the 1966 Rachel, had a role that demanded her to be tough and capable, but with a dark vulnerable side that defined her. She was absolutely mesmerizing. The biggest surprise had to be Sam Worthington, whom I had dismissed for his not-so-engaging performances in films like Avatar and Clash of the Titans, but he really got his shit together for this film. His accent kept lapsing into Aussie casual from time to time, yet his performance was rock-solid. Jesper Christensen's turn as a Hannibal Lecter-ish Nazi war criminal was also worth watching.
So there you have it The Debt is a boring-ass film you hate to love because the performances were too damn good.
• Fini. And now, after two bullets filled with disappointment, I'm going back to organizing my crap so I can be ready to pack my suitcase next weekend.
It's my last Bullet Sunday before vacation! I'd be happy about that, but there's just such an obscene amount of stuff that has to be done before I leave. Guess this is going to be a short one.
• Impostor. The number of people getting their Facebook and Twitter accounts hacked is reaching epic proportions. Today there was a run on Twitter, where SEVEN people I follow got hacked and are now sending me spam.
Sooooo... if you are sent link FROM ANYONE... EVEN PEOPLE YOU KNOW... where you get a login page, DON'T TRUST IT! Always question these pages. Because while they may look authentic...
All too often they are not. See that extra "j" in there?
• Doom. The bees are attacking, tons of space junk are falling from the sky, and beavers are going to inherit the earth... but the good news is that Pop Tarts keeps coming up with new flavors, which has allowed me to finally fulfill my annual New Years resolutions!
Here's hoping next year is as adventurous and delicious as 2011!
• Emmy. I'm pretty sick of crappy awards shows... especially award shows like The Emmys which get it all wrong more often than not. This year, of the major nominations given, here's my take...
Of course, the real problem is that they can't even get the nominations right (best comedy should have been Raising Hope, for example). But it is what it is, and everybody's entitled to their opinion. Even if it's wrong.
And now... back to packing my suitcase. That'll be big fun.
Hey, look! Bullet Sunday is actually on a Sunday this time!
• New 52. I was on vacation when my copies of DC Comics' 52 new books arrived, so I am only now having time to read them. So far I'm a bit underwhelmed. Sure some books have a decent start and are offering good bang for your buck, but most of them just more of the same. Not that they're all "bad" per se, it's just that they don't seem worthy of a company-wide relaunch like this. Sadly, I'm not surprised. What is surprising to me are the books which have surprised me. #1 on that list was All-Star Western featuring Jonah Hex...
As I have no interest in Westerns or lead character Jonah Hex (and didn't appreciate the $3.99 price tag), I almost passed on All-Star Western. But I ended up buying it anyway so I'd have a complete "New 52" set. And thank heavens, because this is easily one of the best titles of the bunch. What the writing team of Gray & Palmiotti have created is more a brilliant murder-mystery story than a Western. But even better is that they have found a very clever way of giving the reader insight into Jonah Hex that makes him a fascinating and fully-realized character. The art is a bit more crude than I usually care for, but Moritat's style is perfect for this book and I loved it. If you were a fan of Baker Street, this is the book for you.
• Steve Jobs Day. After too many false starts, I've pretty much given up trying to write down my thoughts about Steve Jobs. I'm at a loss for words, and I'm never at a loss for words. Ordinarily, I'd be kind of worried, but somehow I'm okay with it...
Flowers left at the Sydney Apple Store in remembrance of Steve Jobs after his death.
The governor of California proclaimed today to be "Steve Jobs Day" which was kind of nice. But to anybody with an Apple product, every day is "Steve Jobs Day."
• Televised. Am I missing all the good new television shows? I set my DVR to record everything fresh, but pretty much hate every single new show I've seen. The lone exception would be 2 Broke Girls, but not hating something is a long ways from actually liking something. On one hand, I'm grateful for the time this will free up, but on the other hand... I'm a television whore, and this really sucks. Here are the only shows I'm interested in this season...
I'm also buzzing through Gossip Girl because Elizabeth Hurley is on it, Survivor when it doesn't suck, and a big chunk of the awesome USA Network shows when they bother to air new episodes (Psych, White Collar, Burn Notice, Suits, and Fairly Legal). Ditto for the excellent FX series Justified which starts back up in January. Still addicted to Dexter, The Big C, Boardwalk Empire, and Game of Thrones... but since I don't get HBO and Showtime, I've been buying them on iTunes (when available) or waiting for the DVD.
I know that sounds like a lot of television but, considering how much TV is out there, it's pretty pathetic.
And now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to stare at the television and wonder where my weekend went.
I'm kind of late to the AppleTV game. Unlike just about every other Apple product, I didn't jump in with AppleTV 1.0 because it was something I simply had to own. For one thing, there just wasn't much content available. For another, it was basically just a big hard drive with video output. Not very compelling considering hard drive space eventually fills up. Or, worst case scenario, the hard drive fails and you lose everything.
But then AppleTV 2.0 came along. It most decidedly wasn't a "hard drive with video output" because it didn't even have a hard drive. It streams everything from the internet, including any television shows you've purchased from the iTunes Store, streaming video from Netflix, Vimeo, and YouTube, streaming photos from Flickr, Podcasts, and even iTunes movie rentals. As if that weren't enough, you can use Apple's "AirPlay" technology to stream video, photos, and music from your computer, iPad, or iPhone.
All in a tiny, tiny little box...
Thanks to Apple's new "iCloud" technology with "iTunes Match," AppleTV is becoming even more useful. Soon you'll be able to stream all your music not from your computer or iOS device, but from the internet. I am hopeful that eventually digital movies you purchase will also be able to be streamed.
What Steve Jobs once described as "just a hobby" is quickly becoming a core Apple device as it matures.
And, apparently, the game isn't over yet.
The internet is abuzz with juicy details coming from the Steve Jobs biography about his plans for an actual Apple Television. As told to biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs said "I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."
Just one look at Job's philosophy for remote design should explain exactly why this is such a tantilizing prospect...
My Logitech "Harmony One" remote on the left, AppleTV remote on the right.
I, for one, welcome our new television overlords.
First of all, I'm excited about the idea of just paying for what I want to watch. Right now, if you have cable or satellite television, that's not an option. You purchase "bundles" of channels that includes crap you may never want to watch. For example, I have an "Expanded Basic" package bundle so I can watch Food TV, USA Network, and some other channels I enjoy from time to time. But that same package also includes stupid shit that I would NEVER want to watch (like FOX "News") but I pay for it anyway because I don't have an option to remove it from my bundle. The cable company controls where the money goes, not the consumer. If Apple's plans for television change this, I would be thrilled not having my hard-earned dollars going to support crap I hate.
Second of all, I really like the idea of not having to pay for shows when there's nothing new being produced. In other words, I don't want to pay to watch reruns. Now when you purchase a show via the iTunes Store, you can re-watch it as often as you want on any of your Apple devices at no charge. You've already paid for it, and you don't have to pay again.
Thirdly, I am really, really freaking out over a the business model which could arise from all this. Rather than advertisers paying networks to pay studios to pay for television content, you'd just pay the studios directly. Voilà, no more having your TV shows interrupted by annoying ads.
But the biggest bonus of all? Apple could take down the whole television network system.
Think about that for a second.
Let the ramifications of that really settle into your brain.
No longer will networks control what shows make it to air... which shows are renewed... which shows are canceled. Consumer purchases decide! Sure Apple is going to get a cut of the money that studios take in, but you're purchasing from the studios directly, so the majority of the purchase price goes to the people producing the content. All of a sudden, the fate of amazing shows like Veronica Mars aren't being sabotaged by network execs who require a massive profit margin so they can get paid to sit on their stupid asses and ruin television. The studio either gets enough money to produce the show and continue doing so... or they don't get enough money and the show is canceled. And I'd like to thank that it would be more profitable for them with only one middle-man in the mix (Apple) instead of the dozens of greedy assholes with their finger in the pie now. Suddenly, smaller shows and smaller studios actually have a chance at survival. Instead of competing against stupid reality show juggernauts and network money-makers for ad revenue, they instead compete for viewers directly.
This will require a radical shift in how television is produced, but I think it will be worth it. Perhaps television networks can reinvent themselves as television investors or something... I don't know. All I do know is that putting the consumer in control of the shows they want to watch and giving control of the content back to content producers is a very good thing.
Though there are many problems to address. How does a new show get noticed? Maybe by giving the first episode away for free? Perhaps Apple's "Genius" technology can be used to recommend shows you might like based on what you watch. And how are advertisers going sell their shit? Well, maybe through sponsorships. Choose to watch an ad, and maybe you get the television show for free for your trouble. Consumers get to decide how to spend their time and money. And when they do decide to watch an ad, they can get ads tailored to them so advertisers are getting the most for their money too. Win-Win.
Not that there won't be losers, but there are always losers.
So long as I win in the end, I'm okay with that. Ask consumers, and they'll probably agree.
But a part of me thinks there will be a lot of other winners if this plays out the way it should. Technology can not only be used to deliver a better experience for television viewers, but for advertisers and content providers as well.
I want my Apple Television! It's long overdue.
In all honesty, I don't know what commentary I could possibly offer that could add to the brilliance of the season premiere of Beavis and Butt-Head tonight.
Any concerns that Mike Judge might have lost his edge in the fourteen years that the show has been off the air were washed away almost immediately. The savage, near-brutal wit that made two such stupid characters transcend to genius is as sharp as ever. Sharper even.
And I knew it would before the show even aired because of the preview footage released by MTV. Watching Beavis and Butt-Head tear into the shame of the nation, Jersey Shore, was near glee-inducing. It was so good that I didn't even mind that the secondary "story" component was kind of weak...
I still feel that South Park is the more critical voice when it comes to smart commentary on pop culture and current events, but I'm happy to say that there's definitely room for what Beavis and Butt-Head are serving up.
Here's hoping the 23 remaining episodes prove as entertaining.
Which may be difficult now that MTV no longer airs music videos for Beavis and Butt-Head to comment on. Fortunately, there's enough other stupid crap on television to fill the void.
Dear Hollywood Movie & Television Studios,
I give up... you win!
For decades you have been trying your best to keep my from buying your movies and shows, but I've resisted. You've treated me like a criminal, you've crippled your products so that they don't work, you force me to watch advertising, you've even flat-out refused to sell me stuff I want to buy... but I persisted. The more you abused me, the more products I bought. The more you hated me, the more money I spent. The more you betrayed me, the more of your stuff I added to my collection.
You have done every shameless, dirty, despicable, evil, horrifying act you can think of to get rid of me, but still I kept coming back. Which is not to say that I wasn't tempted by those glorious DRM-free, advertising-free, menu-free, illegal copies available at no charge on the internet...
Except now you've finally done it. You've finally lost me as a customer after years of trying so hard.
Just in case you're wondering, it's your new piece of shit "UltraViolet Digital Locker System" that was the last straw. Just like your DRM-crippled Blu-Ray disks that are so fucked up that I can't get them to work on my Blu-Ray player, your "UltraViolet Digital Copy" bullshit is so fucked up that I can't get it to work on...well... anything. I jumped through all your hoops, put up with your violation of my privacy, and agreed to terms so one-sided that I think I agreed to be your sex-slave for life, but still your stupid shit doesn't work.
And so I'm done.
Those thousands of VHS Tapes, LaserDiscs, S-VHS Tapes, DVDs, and Blu-Ray Discs I purchased are the end of the road.
For the most part.
With television shows, I can buy them digitally from Apple's iTunes store and stream them to my AppleTV or download them to my iPhone. At least their shit actually works... but the iTunes digital copies cost a lot more than DVDs/Blu-Rays for some reason (and don't come with any extras), so that's rarely an option. Hopefully Hulu and Netflix Streaming will allow me to watch TV shows I want, but who knows how long that will last.
When it comes to movies, I guess I could buy them from iTunes, but you don't allow Apple to stream them. This means I've got to keep the copies (and backup copies) myself, which is too big a hassle. I guess I could buy DVDs and rip legal "digital backups." That way I can always re-rip if I lose the file or don't have hard drive space. But that's an even bigger hassle (and the files aren't even hi-def!). Perhaps renting movies via iTunes or Netflix Streaming is how it'll have to be from now on... assuming they're even available.
Or maybe I should just become a pirate and download everything illegally? This does, after all, seem to be what you are wanting. If you didn't want people to acquire your product illegally, wouldn't you strive to treat your customers well, sell them product that works, and make legal purchases be the most user-friendly, easiest, most desirable, best way to own TV shows and movies ever? I mean, people are fucking paying you here, after all.
But I have no desire to go to jail or be fined for something that's not critical to my well-being, so it's not a pirate's life for me.
Guess I'll just have to learn to get over your product the same way I am now over your bullshit.
Congratulations again on your victory.
It's hard for me to be upset when you've worked so fucking hard to win it.
My car has always been a piece of shit.
But thanks to Saturn going out of business a couple years ago, it's now a worthless piece of shit.
Considering I'd probably have to pay somebody to take it off my hands, I'd even go so far as to say it's less than worthless. And now even more things are starting to go wrong with it. The latest is that the alarm goes off when somebody farts in the vicinity of my car or I have to shut it down. Not all the time... just some of the time. Like tonight.
The first thing I do is look around and see if anybody is around to notice.
If somebody IS there to notice, I look around for somebody else I can blame.
If there's nobody I can blame, then I brace myself for the inevitable nasty looks I'll get.
Tonight I not only got a nasty look, I got a head-shake and finger wag.
This is a really crappy situation because my car isn't valuable enough to even have an alarm. I thought it was something I could just unplug or remove, but apparently it's not that easy. The alarm is built into the electrical system, so it's actually kind of a complex ordeal to get rid of it. I guess this makes sense, because if car alarms were easy to disable or remove they wouldn't be very effective.
I suppose my simplest option would be to just shoot the fucking car, but my Buddhist sensibilities prohibit my firing a gun. Fortunately, I live in the heart of Redneckistan, so finding somebody else with a gun to shoot my car would be no more difficult than walking into the local tavern (or church) and saying "Anybody packin'?"
The problem is that I just don't want new car payments, and my piece-of-shit Saturn is already paid off. This means I'm just going to have to ignore the defective alarm for a while longer.
Like until my car falls apart and explodes.
And speaking of "Redneckistan" and "exploding"...
Washington State now has a website to promote marriage equality in our state.
The more liberal West Coast voters can probably be convinced. But across the mountains in my
And speaking of "heads exploding"...
HOLY SHIT! NBC HAS PULLED COMMUNITY FROM THE SCHEDULE! There goes one of the funniest shows on television, as the odds of it getting picked up for a new season are now effectively zero. Poop.
So there I am driving home from work when all of a sudden a pickup truck down the street ahead of me screeches to a halt and starts backing up!
My first instinct was to do nothing. This would be the THIRD time in FOUR months that somebody has backed into my invisible piece-of-shit car. I might as well pick up another insurance check out of the deal.
But then two thoughts hit me at once...
So I honked my horn. They screeched to a halt again (one car-length from my bumper) then pulled forward into a parking spot so I could pass.
And I bet you a million dollars they were cussing me out for daring to honk at them, even though I saved THEM from hitting ME.
I tell you, the only thing keeping me from wanting to be abducted by aliens right now so I can leave this shithole planet behind is this...
I read the first book of George R. R. Martin's epic "Song of Ice and Fire" series, A Game of Thrones, because of a glowing employee recommendation at Powell's City of Books. I liked it well enough that I bought the follow-up, A Clash of Kings when it came out a few months later. A couple years after that, A Storm of Swords came out. It was supposed to be the last book of a trilogy, but Martin decided he wanted to keep going. I then gave up because it took FIVE years for the fourth book, A Feast for Crows to come out... and frickin' SIX years after that for the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, to come out (this past July).
The reason I gave up was because the last thing I want is to get all invested in the series only to have George R. R. Martin up and die before he finally finishes the story (presumably with book seven)...
Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin — ©2011 HBO/Helen Sloan
But thennnnnnn... HBO unleashed an Original Series based upon the books that has been getting rave reviews and awards. Whenever I travel, I always try to catch it when my hotel has HBO. I've seen roughly half of the ten episodes...
I was thinking I'd watch the rest of the episodes when the DVD set was released, but HBO isn't releasing it until frickin' MARCH (and it's priced like EIGHTY DOLLARS or something) so I went ahead and ordered HBO. Now I've been watching it via On Demand, and am pretty amazed at how faithful they are to the book (or what I remember of it).
But now I am back to worrying over whether George R. R. Martin will die before the HBO series can be concluded. Even worse is the thought that Martin will complete the books in a timely manner, but HBO will cancel the series before they've adapted all of them.
I'm not a very material guy. At least not anymore. I'd rather spend my money on traveling than on "things." As long as I have my MacBook Pro, my iPhone, and my camera, I'm pretty indifferent about any other stuff I've accumulated. So much so that for the past several months I've been getting rid of the clutter in my life by the box-full. About the only thing I want to buy is a new improved MacBook Pro, new improved iPhone, and new improved camera.
It's a frickin' onesie! It's baby pajamas for adults! How genius is that?
Even the name is genius... FOREVER LAZY!
Who doesn't want to be forever lazy? Sitting around the house eating junk food and watching television. And when that gets to be too much for you, you can just take a nap right there on the couch because you're wrapped in a blanket already. About the only effort you have to put out is when you poop. But wait... they even made that easy!
So now I'm torn. If I want to eventually upgrade my MacBook Pro, my iPhone, and my camera, then this isn't an option. It's not like the money to do all that is going to fall from the sky once I stop working to be Forever Lazy.
I need to find a way to make money at being a lazy asshole that doesn't have to think or make sense and can sit around being stupid as a hell all day long...
Hmmmm... wonder where I can find a sweet gig like that?
I have no idea where the week went. Lately it seems as though I jump from weekend to weekend with everything between being nothing but a blur of non-stop work.
While working at home, I like to have some background noise going on. Usually it's the television or a DVD I've seen a million times. My current drug of choice is "The Science Channel" which is now called simply "Science" and which I have renamed "The We're All Going to Die Channel"...
There's actually quite a variety of shows on the network, but it seems a lot of them are sneaking in a deadly surprise. I'll be sitting in front of the television working, half-paying-attention to some show that's on, when all of a sudden I hear "...ending all life on earth" or "...destroying the planet" or ...devastating our world and everything on it. I'm guessing because 2012 is just around the corner and a lot of people have armageddon on their mind.
It usually goes like this:
Science tells us that INSERT INNOCENT HISTORIC SCIENCE FACT. If this CONTINUES/HAPPENS/HAPPENS AGAIN, then INSERT SCIENTIFIC THEORY, which would mean INSERT GLOBAL CATASTROPHE and we're all going to die!
Science tells us that the moon is drifting from earth. If this continues, then the earth's axis of rotation could become unstable, which would mean extreme catastrophic shifts in weather all over the planet and we're all going to die!
Science tells us that earth has a violent history of collisions with asteroids. If this happens again, then the resulting impact could cause firestorms across the planet, which would mean soot and ash blanketing the earth and blocking out the sun and we're all going to die!
Science tells us that earth has a number of "super volcanoes" just waiting to blow. If this happens, then huge sections of the planet could erupt in a chain reaction, which would mean global earthquakes and tsunamis ravaging the earth and we're all going to die!
And it goes on and on. Everything from "man-made super viruses" and "nuclear winter" to "running out of clean water" and "Mars leaving its orbit and crashing into the earth"... but, no matter how you slice it, we're all going to die!
And it will be a spectacular and awesome event.
I, for one, am totally psyched! Who says science can't be fun?
A week and a day late with a Bullet Sunday... on Monday!
• Toys! The LEGO DC Superheroes site is finally live. Not a lot there yet, but it's a start. The good news is that some of the sets are starting to leak out... including an awesome Superman & Wonder Woman vs. Battle Suit Lex Luthor. Kind of lame how Superman and Wonder Woman look scary-mean though...
All I can think of when I look at this set is how much I want a LEGO video game with these characters in it. I swear, the LEGO Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and Pirates of the Caribbean games are the most fun I've had with a video game.
• Who? The Dr. Who Christmas Special was really done this year, as usual, even if it did drag in the middle with the silly trees and stuff. All things considered, the ending was surprisingly touching...
It's been confirmed that The Doctor's companions, Amy and Rory, will be leaving the series next season. Given that they're the most entertaining thing on the show right now, this is kind of depressing. Even worse, show runner Steven Moffit has said that their relationship reaches a tragic end. I'm sad already.
• Fabulous! I don't know why, but the new AbFab Special is available in its entirety on Vimeo...
Not surprisingly, it's pretty darn funny. If you're a fan, it's worth checking out now since it doesn't "officially" air on BBC America until the New Year.
• Pano! When I went to Australia, I started taking panorama photos in HDR. The results have been pretty amazing. The HDR equalizes out the tones so that the individual photos blend a lot better...
The above pano took 33 photos to assemble at full-resolution, but I think it was worth the trouble. Now I'm kinda psyched about finding new panoramic scenery to shoot!
• Scrivener. My favorite writing app, Scrivener, was updated to version 2.0 a year ago, but I never remembered to install it until this past weekend. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but it's an even more valuable tool than ever before. The upgrade to the notecard cork-board alone was worth the small upgrade fee. If you do any writing at all, you owe it to yourself to take a look at this amazing program. You can download a free demo for Mac or Windows at the Literature and a Latte website.
As if that wasn't awesome enough... an iPad version of Scrivener is being developed for release in 2012.
Annnnnd... back to work. This is going to be a crazy week.
I used to take absolute joy in crushing my enemies and destroying people who have wronged me. I was also very, very good at it. If somebody was deserving of my wrath, I would do almost anything to make it happen. I would call in favors long forgotten. I would orchestrate any needed scenario. I would facilitate any action. I would pay any price. And while I'm not saying I would ever be the cause of any physical harm, my vengeance could be terrible and have horrifying consequences for anybody who dared to screw me over.
But then one day after a particularly nasty revenge scenario, I realized the only person I was hurting was myself.
Ha ha... just kidding. That's lame.
Actually what happened was that I took a moment to do a victory dance after a particularly nasty revenge scenario and suddenly realized I was genuinely afraid of myself.
The person who was capable of what I had done was not somebody I wanted to be.
Which means that I actually was hurting myself after all. Which is still lame, but at least it's lame for a cool reason.
That was twenty years ago, give or take.
Since that time, I've had exactly one relapse.
I'd like to say that I'm not proud of what I had done, but that would be a total lie. The only thing I'm proud of is that I didn't go any further than I did. Because, heaven only knows, they certainly would have deserved it.
But I didn't deserve to have to live with it.
Except now I've been working my guts out while catching up on the past couple episodes of ABC's Revenge starring the brutally hot Emily VanCamp, and I'm starting to have second thoughts...
On television, everybody is having a great time dishing out wrath and vengeance.
That could totally be me!
All I have to do is sit back and wait for somebody truly deserving to come along. Given my luck, they'll be here soon enough.
Time for my annual wrap-up of my favorite TV shows this year.
THE TWELVE BEST...
I am a total television whore. Anybody who has read this blog for any length of time already knows this. But this year was particularly bad. I watched more television than ever before, and have no idea where I found the time to do it. Though I'm usually working while it's on, and a lot of time I save it for when I'm traveling (thank you, iPad!), so that's something I guess. I sincerely hope that 2012 has a lot more crappy television so I can spend my time on more worthwhile pursuits (though I don't know what those might be yet).
#1 Raising Hope. I simply cannot express how much I love this show. It is flawlessly cast and the stories are always winners. Jimmy's family still has their hands full with baby Hope (who's starting to grow up!) and the outlandish situations just get more imaginative with each new episode.
#2 Happy Endings. This was hands-down my favorite show this past year. Now that we're in the second season... something is missing, and I can't put my finger on it. Yet it's still a fantastic series that's laugh-out-loud funny.
#3 A Game of Thrones. Peter Jackson's brilliant film adaptation of Lord of the Rings proved that adapting richly complex fantasy novels is not impossible. So I had a little hope when I heard that the Song of Ice and Fire novels were being brought to television. Then I found out it wasn't TV, it was HBO, and I was really hopeful. The result? George R. R. Martin's epic was faithfully brought to the small screen with a series that was literally too good to be true. Not to say that I don't have my worries for the future of the series, but I can't wait to see what they do next.
#4 Shameless. Well, wow. Nothing I can say about this show will do it justice. It's based on a British series I've never seen, and stars William H. Macy as a non-functional poverty-stricken alcoholic who has a family of six kids that have to raise themselves. The show is sometimes shocking... always interesting... and captivating in a way that I never expected.
#5 Dr. Who. Matt Smith didn't "sell" me as The Doctor until the absolutely flawless episode called "Vincent and the Doctor" (which I lovingly review at length here). It opened my eyes to the show in an all-new way, and the magic sucked me back into the wonderful adventures of our favorite Time Lord. I've since re-watched the last couple series and am now a bigger fan of the show as I've ever been. Really great television.
#6 Revenge. Yeah, it's a guilty pleasure... no question about it. But it's such a good guilty pleasure. When girl-done-wrong comes back to town in a new identity and decides to take down the people who contributed to the death of her father, delicious revenge ensues. And it is delicious. I admit that I'm not a fan of how the "vengeance of the week" awesomeness has died down, but the overall story is just too good to resist.
#7 Castle. Nathan Fillion and über-hot Stana Katic have chemistry that never diminishes. Sure this is basically Murder She Wrote for a new generation, but it's done really well. Even better, the supporting cast isn't just comic relief or incompetent foil for the leads... they are fully-functional and three-dimensional characters who contribute to the story in a meaningful way. And it just works.
#8 Sons of Anarchy. This brilliant biker gang drama did not get off to the greatest of starts this season. Indeed, I was worried that it had jumped the shark in the worst possible way. But then... something happened. The show took a turn for the better in a really good way. We were rewarded for our patience with some of the very best episodes ever to air on television, largely thanks to... Katey Sagal? (PEG BUNDY? SERIOUSLY?!?) As a fan of the show, I am glad to see that it is actually heading somewhere. As a fan of television I'm positively thrilled.
#9 Homeland. Damian Lewis, who I loved in Life, was the only reason I checked out this "homeland security" CIA love-fest. Surprise, it's an amazing show. It's just such a deep and rewarding investment of my time that I can't help but love it.
#10 Archer. This deeply disturbed cartoon series about the most self-centered (but capable!) spy in the world is so wrong. But it's addictive in a way that most shows only dream of.
#11 The Big C. A show where the lead character is dying from inoperable cancer. Hilarious, right? Oddly enough... yes. I still can't believe that this show manages to bring a smile to my face every episode.
#12 Fringe. This series is just not firing on all cylinders right now, but its past greatness has me holding on. In any event, it's still great television and well worth my time. I just hope that the show-runners have some ideas up their sleeves that will return the show to greatness. We need it so badly.
ALL THE REST...
And here's all the other noteworthy shows I am watching in some capacity or another. Sad, I know.
Rules of Engagement. I can't give up this show because I've grown overly-attached to the characters. The only problem is that the prolonged engagement between Adam and Jen that was meant to show the before/after contrast with Jeff and Audrey is growing increasingly unrealistic. They need to finally get married so the show can go to wherever it's heading after Jeff and Audrey's baby is born.
Community. As I've said every year since the show began, this is the most consistently funny comedy on television.
Breaking Bad. Easily the most messed-up show on television, it's also one of the most engrossing. You just can't wait to see what happens next. And it's usually even more messed up than what happened before.
30 Rock. I love... love... Tina Fey. And Alec Baldwin plays his role like nobody else ever could.
Louie. Surprisingly funny look into the life of a stand-up comedian (played by the brilliant Louie C.K.) that actually has some depth to it.
Justified. This show fascinates me with just how great it works given the "Lawman of Redneckistan" premise. The acting talent alone makes this a must-watch.
Parks & Recreation. I thought the shake-up this season would be the death-knell for the show. But adding Rob Lowe and Adam Scott was a ploy that actually worked.
Futurama. I like this show a magnitude better than The Simpsons because it never seems to get old. Probably because the setting allows for a lot more imaginative stories than just keep getting better.
Suits. Now this was a pleasant surprise. A new lawyer show that's actually a NEW lawyer show! I enjoyed the series quite a lot, though it's getting a little predictable near the end there.
The Big Bang Theory. Speaking of predictable... but they added Amy Farrah Fowler (played by Mayim Bialik) to the mix, which is good for all kinds of laughs. Th brilliant Wil Wheaton guest spots don't hurt either.
Boardwalk Empire. Remarkable show, but I'm losing my enthusiasm for it as time goes on.
2 Broke Girls. This show is really uneven in laughs, but it has its fair share so I keep watching.
Grey's Anatomy. Do not know how they keep this show fresh as long as they have. The problem is that they are running out of interesting medical problems, so they're focusing more on the drama, which is bad.
How I Met Your Mother. Still not tired of this show even though I should be because the premise has been worn paper-thin. A part of me really hopes that they'll just reveal the damn mother and end the show already. It's really time. But damn if I don't keep hanging on in the hopes of another Robin Sparkles episode!
Psych. The episodes kind of all blend together for my now, but every once in a while they do something that makes me love the show all over again.
Hot in Cleveland. Betty. White. What else can I say?
Modern Family. Not as fresh as it was. Growing really sick and tired of the "Stupid-Ass Phil Dunphy Dumbass Act of the Week."
Fairly Legal. I was really mixed on this show at the beginning, but grew to love it when I re-watched all the episodes in reruns. Really looking forward to a new season to see if they can keep it fresh.
White Collar. I may be growing a little tired of this one now, but they continue to come up with interesting cases, so I keep watching.
Episodes. Matt LeBlanc came back from the (career) dead in order to parody himself in an unexpected but very funny way. Two highly successful British television writers are seduced by the lure of Hollywood and a remake of their popular series for American audiences. AS one would expect, disaster (and LeBlanc!) ensues.
Burn Notice. This show wore out its welcome a couple years ago. But I love Fiona (played by Gabrielle Anwar) so hard that I cannot give up the show. In all honesty, I wish that they would spin her off in something new.
Dexter. Losing its charm with each new year. If next season doesn't have anything interesting to grab me, it's over.
Whitney. And not for Whitney Cummings, who is a little too annoying... it's the rest of the cast that makes this show worth watching.
The Walking Dead. One of my favorite shows of last year was completely trashed this year. SO not the series I fell in love with now. But the comic book is such an awesome source material that I can't stop watching.
Top Chef/Project Runway/Survivor/Cupcake Wars. The four "reality television" shows I can tolerate. Note that the "reality" is a competition and/or creativity, which is why I can enjoy them.
AND THE SIX WORST...
The biggest disappointments this past year.
#1 New Girl. How in the hell they managed to make one of the hottest, most remarkable women on the planet (Zooey Deschanel) become unbearably annoying is beyond me. And the secondary cast is even worse. This show is like nails on a chalkboard to me, despite how much everybody else seems to love it.
#2 Harry's Law. They jettisoned everything I like about this show... then kept all the things I hated. It's just more of the same now.
#3 Terra Nova. How in the hell can a show that has both time travel and dinosaurs be this bad? There is not a single character on this crapfest that I don't want dead. Horrible, horrible television.
#4 House of Lies. This show has Don Cheadle, Josh Lawson, and KRISTEN FRICKIN' BELL... WHAT HAPPENED? It is mind-numbingly boring between the good bits, and never seems to end... that's what. Yes, the good bits are really good, but it's SO not worth the shit you have to sit through to get there. The "time-freeze" moments which allow Don Cheadle to interrupt the show to explain terms and back-story DO NOT WORK. They are an interruption that actually interrupts the show in a horrible fashion. EPIC FAIL!
#5 X-Factor/American Idol/TheVoice. I have yet to hear anybody on any of these shows that I would want to listen to in real life.
#6 The Bachelor/The Kardashians/Jersey Shore/Whores Love Money For the love of God, please get all this "whores will do any stupid shit for money" crap off my television.
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