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Bullet Sunday 547

Posted on Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Dave!Ain't got no time for April Foolin' because a brand new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Bunnies! Happy Easter to everybody who celebrates it! Happy April Fool's Day to everybody who celebrates it! Happy Easter Fool's Day to everybody who celebrates both!

   
• Rocks! This is absolutely fascinating...

I'd think these sculptures were just as cool if they were cemented together. The fact that they are not is pretty incredible.

   
• Home! Smart advertising is such a rarity now-a-days. This brilliant commercial explains exactly who Home Goods is and what they do...

No Home Goods in my neck of the woods... but I'd shop at one if there were!

   
• Cheetah! Nice kitty! This made my day. Look at those claws!

Cats are cats no matter how big.

   
• Faith! 93 years old...

What a remarkable man.

   
And, that's a wrap! Enjoy that chocolate Easter bunny.

   

Construction Time Again

Posted on Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Dave!A while back I decided I wanted to build a pergola over the section of my patio which isn't already occupied by my catio enclosure. Initially I had the idea of fitting a cat-run on the outer edges, but ultimately decided that wouldn't work because it obstructed too much of my view. Instead I think I want something much more simple and open. I also like the idea of having a porch swing on one end and a low-fence creating a barrier at the back. That way I could put a small table and a couple chairs up against it...

Pergola Plan

Pergola Plan

Pergola Plan

I also like the idea of having a cat-run extending from the catio to a viewing platform on top of the pergola for Jake and Jenny. By making it fit between the slats, I could easily remove it if I ever wanted to...

Pergola Plan

And so... I'm making a parts list and saving my money for the materials needed. It shouldn't take too long to get it put together once I've cut all the pieces, probably just a three-day weekend.

Can't wait for wood-shop season to begin.

   

Camera Monsters

Posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Dave!Sometimes having security cameras are not the comfort you think they would be.

Like when you call them up and see a black blob covering one of them...


Camera Monster

Apparently scaly monsters have invaded my home. Or have they?

Camera Monster

Camera Monster

Nope. It's just Jake.

Crawling on the counters where he knows he's not supposed to be.

Maybe he's just trying to get a good vantage point to admire the beautiful new ceramic drinking fountain I bought for them?

Yes. That's probably what it was.

Jake took to it right away, but Jenny has been a bit more cautious...

Jenny and the Drinking Fountain

Kind of puzzled as to why. This new one is far, far quieter than the one I replaced.

Cats.

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Obsessing Over Dunez

Posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Dave!I've come to the conclusion that he internet is an incredibly useful thing... in addition to being a blight on all humanity from time to time, of course.

Like when you hear a song you really like and have no idea what it is, so you Shazam it and, as if by magic, the name and artist appears on your phone. That is the kind of thing that makes having the internet totally worth the crap you have to suffer through.

As an example, I kept hearing a Culligan Water commercial called "Drinks" that has a fantastic track thumping in the background...

Mere seconds after rewinding the DVR and calling up Shazam, I learn that the song is Pumper by Mai Lan...

And then... then there are the times where Shazam comes up empty.

Like when I was watching a video on using Plex with Alexa and this cool track pops up that I've never heard. I totally dig it, so I Shazam and get a completely different song (Across the Universe by Akira?).

I tried searching for the artist and song said in the video, but I couldn't understand it fully, so Google wasn't helping. I then tried Googling lyrics, but that also failed. So I kept hammering away with different variations of what I was hearing and finally arrived at this...

Castaway by Dunez. There we go! That's it!

Except when I go to buy the song from iTunes, it's not there. When I go to play it from Amazon Music Unlimited, it's not there. The only place it exists is on SoundCloud.

With no way of buying it, I finally rip the song and make a note of yet another track I need to buy in order to keep my music collection legal.

Which begs the question... how can a band exist... create a track... and there be no trace of it or them? I found their Facebook page, but the last thing they mention about any music is a promise for "new tunes coming soon" on August 13th, 2015.

Tunes that never came. At least from what I can tell.

And so I'm left hanging... wondering whatever happened to Dunez, if I'll ever be able to buy their song, and if we'll ever get anything new out of them. Because, from the sound of it, this is a band I'd really like.

The internet... sometimes creating more mysteries than it solves.

In addition to being a blight on all humanity from time to time, of course.

   

Hot Coffee Girl and Blogging

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Dave!There are times people ask me why I still have a blog. There are times I wonder myself why I keep Blogography going. The whole "blogging community" that seemed like it would last forever a decade ago has evaporated. Most of my blogging friends hung it up years ago or moved to Twitter or Facebook.

But not me.

It got to be a habit, it's still a habit, and there are still a lot of people visiting here (15 years of blog entries indexed by Google will do that).

I think, more than that though, is the nostalgia of what blogging once was that won't let go of me. I have met so many people because of this thing... many of whom have become dear offline friends. Blogging was family to me.

That's what makes it all worthwhile.

I am reeling this morning after learning that long-time blogging friend "Hot Coffee Girl," AKA Kelly, passed away. Such a kind and caring soul. And one who will be missed by many.

Once when I was in Chicago we met up to "Tilt" out the window of Hancock Tower in Chicago. As we were waiting for our ticket time, we stopped at a small juice bar at Hancock Plaza where Kelly proceeded to order a shot of wheat grass juice. This tiny little paper cup was filled with green sludge and cost a fortune, but she was totally loving it. And I was totally loving teasing her about it... which I did for years after.

I'm gutted that so many good friends met on the internet are now gone. Anissa, Lisa, Howard, Tracy, Rick... dear people all, each leaving a hole in our hearts. So glad I got to meet them in person, even though they became much more than a name on a computer monitor to me, even if we had never met at all.

Rest in peace, Hot Coffee Girl.

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The Name of the Game

Posted on Friday, April 6th, 2018

Dave!I was looking for background noise to play while I work and ran across Miss Congeniality playing. It's one of those guilty pleasure films that I really don't need to see for the tenth time, which is perfect because I won't be distracted by it.

At one point in the film Sandra Bullock as hapless undercover FBI agent beauty contestant Gracie Lou Freebush is practicing a dance routine and ABBA's Dancing Queen...

   
And now I'm screwed.

Because any time I hear ABBA, I am immediately sucked down a rabbit hole of their amazing oeuvre of pop genius.

There are few songs of theirs that I don't love, but there's one song in particular that's my hands-down favorite... The Name of the Game. It's so beautifully constructed that it's easy to say it must be one of the greatest pop songs ever written. Couple that with the flawless voices of Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad and... well... it's pretty tough to find fault in the magic of it all...

   
Listening to ABBA always leads me to A*Teens, a Swedish teen group that hit the Disney circuit back in 2000. Originally formed as "ABBA Teens," their first album was filled with ABBA covers, including their take on The Name of the Game...

   
What's interesting is that A*Teens ended up having surprising depth, moving past their ABBA covers and creating their own stuff. Yes, it was teen-pop. But it was pretty good teen pop...


   
A*Teens always leads me to Hoku... aka Hoku Ho, daughter of Hawaiian legend Don Ho... who was gaining popularity around the same time that A*Teens were blowing up in the US. Her one album is actually really good, though the song she's probably most famous for is Perfect Day from the movie Legally Blonde...

   
As an interesting aside, Hoku is apparently working on new music and plans on releasing an album this year! The EP has her listed as a "Christian Artist," so I can only imagine that she's no longer going to be singing the bubblegum pop songs that made her famous.

   
Anyway... Hoku always leads me to fellow Hawaiian artist, Iz, and his magical version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

   
The voice of Hawaii obviously leads me back to ABBA and Happy Hawaii...

   
And now it starts all over again...

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Caturday 57

Posted on Saturday, April 7th, 2018

Dave!And so Jenny is terrified of my MacBook power adapter for some reason.

No clue as to why, but if she's near me and I so much as move it from one spot on the arm rest to another, she runs away. My guess is that it fell on her while she was goofing around with the cord, and she's been afraid of it ever since. I can't hide it under anything because it would overheat, so I've just started setting it as far out of her sight as I can.

Because heaven only knows I don't want to miss this...

Jenny on the Couch

Jenny on the Couch

Jenny on the Couch

   
In other Caturday news... Jake's relationship with his stuffed lion, Mufasa, just continues to go deeper. In addition to carting it around with him, he's started taking it to his favorite nap spots so he can sleep with it (probably so Jenny won't take it)...

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Not that Jenny is in any way dissuaded. She knows exactly how to push Jake's buttons... and the quickest way to do that is to steal his most prized possession.

Last night just before midnight, I heard a major ruckus downstairs which goes on long enough that I climb out of bed to go check it out. That's when Jenny comes tearing into my room with Mufasa in her mouth, dumps him off, then stands there waiting for Jake so she can snatch Mufasa and run off again...

Jenny Steals Mufasa

   
Don't feel too sorry for Jake. He probably ate some scraps of food left in her bowl... or pushed her off the top perch on the cat condo post... or did something else to set her off. That's usually how it goes.

Whether taking Mufasa is better or worse than running up and smacking Jake while he's pooping is open to debate. Jake seems equally irritated by both.

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Bullet Sunday 458

Posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Dave!Time for you to do that voodoo that you do so well... because a brand new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• KATY?!?! I don't watch American Idol, but I happened upon a commercial where I saw that Katy Perry is a judge now, so I had to check it out. Her new look is amazing...

Katy Perry American Idol

Modern rock glam with a punk sensibility stirred into the mix? Yes please.

   
• Shiplap! Shiplap! Shiplap! And so the final Episode of Fixer Upper has come and gone. I didn't sob uncontrollably as expected. There are many home renovation shows I enjoy watching... but none of them... NOT ONE... can compare to the taste level of Joanna Gaines. In all these years, I can't think of a single thing on any of her projects where I've thought "Well that's horrible!" Sure there are some decisions she makes that aren't my favorite... but it's rare, and it's never so bad I would rip it out if it were in my home. Joanna's Behind the Design starts on the 11th, and there's 15 half-hour episodes to be had. After that? I guess it's game over...

HGTV Behind the Design

My favorite of all the design shows, Fixer Upper will be missed.

   
• Pro! APPLE IS CONSULTING WITH THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BE USING THEIR SHIT? WELL THAT'S A WELCOME AND PLEASANT FUCKING SURPRISE! I've been absolutely furious that self-proclaimed "pro" Macs are anything but "professional." They're designed to be pretty rather than functional, and Apple keeps ripping out features that pros actually need. Though something tells me this is a case of "too little too late," as many professionals I know have moved to Windows. My mind reels over how Apple has abandoned a market they used to own. Makes me wonder how much longer they plan to make Macs at all.

   
• Solo! A new trailer was released for the Han Solo Star Wars prequel. It looks pretty great... but the plague of problems that have descended on the film has me wondering if this is just showing some of the best bits and the rest of the movie if going to be crap...

I guess we shall see. I am really hoping that the movie is great compared to the mixed bag we got last time. Though the special effects, settings, and battles were amazing, I wasn't really happy with the story for The Last Jedi, which had some of the stupidest bits since the prequels...

Leia in SPAAAAAACE!

I mean... Space Leia? What in the hell were they thinking?

   
• Incredible! As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of the first Incredibles movie, I am anxiously awaiting the sequel. Seeing awesome marketing materials like this doesn't make me any more patient...

XXX

Hopefully they kept the design sensibility that made the first movie so stylishly iconic.

   
Later, gators!

   

Star Trekking

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2018

Dave!Today is a busy day because I am off for vacation starting tomorrow. In an effort to save time so I can pack and clean house before tearing out of here, I thought I would cut-and-paste a ranking of my top-five episodes from each Star Trek series that I had made last week. A fellow fan and I were discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of all things Trek, and this is how we let each other know exactly What Kind of Star Trek Fan We Are. Because, let's face it, wars have been started over this kind of thing.

But then I decided to rank the series themselves.

Then I decided to write my thoughts on each series.

Then I had to go back through my lists and question some of my choices.

Next thing I know, a half hour has passed, and my entire reason for this entry have all come crashing down. I spent more time making a blog post out of something that I would have been much better off starting from nothing. Cat photos take hardly any time at all.

Star Trekking

But anyway... here we go, starting with my ranking of all the series best-to-worst...

  1. Star Trek: The Original Series
  2. Star Trek: Discovery
  3. Star Trek: The Next Generation
  4. Star Trek: Enterprise
  5. Star Trek: Deep Space 9
  6. Star Trek: Voyager

   
And here are my top-five episodes within each, in series order...

   
Star Trek
The first Trek is undeniably the best Trek with strong stories that hold up even to this day. That they managed to make it look so good given the effects technology at the time is just icing on the cake. Yes, the acting was less than subtle, but there's no denying that the cast was a magical combination that sustained the franchise well past cancelation. If there's a grievous fault in the series, it would be almost the entirety of the third and final season, which saw budgets slashed and shitty stories like And the Children Shall Lead taking a steaming dump on the sublime excellence of the first two seasons. No spin-off even comes close to how imaginative and revolutionary a show Star Trek was, is, and will always be.

  1. Mirror, Mirror
  2. The City on the Edge of Forever
  3. Space Seed
  4. Balance of Terror
  5. Assignment Earth

   
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Gene Roddenberry's bizarre edict that the future was perfect, everybody on The Enterprise was buddy-buddy, and all internal conflict on the ship was to be purged, made for a bland return to a once-great show. I was on vacation in Maui when the premiere debuted. But I was such a Trek fan that I gave up precious time in paradise to watch the first episode. It was so heinously boring and shitty... from the story to the sets to the effects to the costumes to (some) of the acting... that I was mired in shock and disbelief. How in the hell did anybody making the show thing this was Star Trek? Not to say it was all crap. Things improved after the first season and some true gems were to be found amongst the ruins... but, yeah, it was mostly crap. Though it wasn't the crappiest thing to come out of Star Trek. Not by a long shot.

  1. The Inner Light
  2. Darmok
  3. Yesterday’s Enterprise
  4. The Best of Both Worlds
  5. Remember Me -tie- The Ensigns of Command

   
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Despite having the series elevated by the amazing talents of Avery Brooks in the lead (ZOMG! It's Hawk!), this low-rent Trek knock-off was absurd to new extremes. Made infamous for Odo being the shape-changing alien that never changed shape, everything seemed to be done on the cheap. They blew their budgetary wad on the Deep Space Nine space station set, then had no money to go anywhere interesting, do anything interesting, or see anything interesting. They tried to compensate with the whole Bajoran/Cardassian conflict, but it was poorly handled and came across as false drama. The religious angle with the "Prophets" was boring in ways Next Generation could only dream about, and things were off to a bad start from the beginning because of it. Eventually even the people running the show realized what a turd they had crapped out, and added a ship (The USS Defiant) so they could go places... and fan-favorite character Worf... but it was too late. All that had come before had mired the show in mediocrity, and precious few episodes managed to escape it. But when they did manage to escape it, the series showed such amazing promise. A glimpse at what could have been. Unfortunately it was too rare an event to make me care about the show, because they always went crawling back to what made it suck.

  1. The Visitor
  2. Trials and Tribble-ations
  3. Far Beyond the Stars
  4. Little Green Men
  5. Second Skin

   
Star Trek: Voyager
Holy shit where do I even start? Because I am having a tough time finding the words to express just how much I hated this show. Hated it. There were elements I liked... in particular Robert Picardo as The Doctor and Tim Russ as Tuvok. And eventually we got Jeri Ryan as the Borg's "Seven of Nine" which was another coup. But that wasn't even remotely enough to salvage what a mess things were. First of all... the entire concept of the show was to remove "Star Trek" from everything "Star Trek" so writers could throw out the rules and let their imaginations run wild. A crew formed from conflict! No support system! Limited resources! Life on Voyager was to be a brutal struggle for survival in a strange and hostile universe far, far from home. But we never got that! Well, we rarely got that. What we got was yet another Next Generation retread that didn't even come close to the standards set by Next Generation (such as they were). As if that weren't shitty enough, "button-pushing action" was elevated to new heights. A conflict arises. Buttons are pushed to solve it. All while the "EPS conduits" are failing and the plasma is rerouted. Over and over and over and over again. I barely watched the show, but ended up binging on DVD rentals after everything ended so I could fast-forward through the boring crap. Which is to say I was fast-forwarding most of the time. The fact that I couldn't even manage to think of five episodes I liked well enough to list speaks volumes. It was all Oh... I remember that one with Sarah Silverman! and Oh... that episode with the rapid-evolving civilization was good enough that "The Orville" ripped it off!" Give me a break.

  1. Blink of an Eye
  2. Year of Hell
  3. Future's End

   
Star Trek: Enterprise
It was a good concept. Go back to all the newness and exploration of the unknown that made Star Trek so amazing by setting a show before Star Trek existed. Then get a big name like Scott Bakula to star in it. Then spend the money needed to make the show actually look great. It would be different. It would build pre-continuity continuity for the original series. It would focus on all the things Star Trek fans love and jettison those things they didn't. It would be a love letter to everything Star Trek! That would be great, right? Well, it sure could have been. Except some genius decided to mire the whole thing in the so-called "Temporal Cold War" which had death-grip on the show for three whole seasons. Sure, they were creative enough to escape it from time to time, but it pretty much killed what should have been an enjoyable outing. The fact that it never really paid off just added insult to injury. No surprise that my favorite episodes are ones that tried to side-step the restrictions that plagued the series.

  1. Carbon Creek
  2. In a Mirror, Darkly
  3. Similitude
  4. Twilight
  5. Dear Doctor

   
Star Trek: Discovery
And here we are. The latest Star Trek spin-off that has divided fans and set the internet on fire. It seems most people either love it or hate it, though the reason they love it or hate it differ completely. I absolutely loved it. And the reason I loved it is because I felt it finally... finally... recaptured what I loved about the original series. At long last, we had actual Star Trek happening again! And yet there are people who hated it because they didn't feel it was Star Trek at all. And I get it. Honestly I do. It has many problems continuity-wise. It completely and utterly rejects Roddenberry's silly "no internal conflict" edict. There were inexplicably stupid changes made (WTF with the Klingons?). And some of the tech is just plain silly (spore drive?!?). But, as a die-hard fan of the original, I just didn't care about any of that because the "flavor" or what captured my imagination from the start was there. It also had some brilliant re-workings of some of Trek's best ideas. As if all that wasn't enough, the special effects and casting were choice. Sure the last two episodes fizzled, but the slow burn and massive payoff for everything before that was all I could want in a Star Trek show. I cannot wait to see what they come up with for their second season.

  1. The Wolf Inside
  2. Despite Yourself
  3. Into the Forest I Go
  4. Vaulting Ambition
  5. Context is for Kings

   
Just for duck soup (and a need for completeness), here is my ranking of the Star Trek movies which I took from my blog post here (with details, if you need them!)...

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  3. Star Trek
  4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  5. Star Trek Beyond
  6. Star Trek: First Contact
  7. Star Trek Into Darkness
  8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  10. Star Trek: Generations
  11. Star Trek: The Final Frontier
  12. Star Trek: Nemesis
  13. Star Trek: Insurrection

   
And I guess that's a wrap on Star Trek. If all goes as planned, tomorrow's entry will be written from the airport.

   

Day One: AMS -> SEA

Posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

Dave!Time to Amsterdam is just under ten hours, which means I can burn through five movies to pass the time.

Fortunately, there were plenty of films available on my flight that I was interested in seeing, so I didn't have to resort to binge-watching West Wing episodes on my iPhone...

  • Disaster Artist I was really looking forward to seeing a film documenting the making of one of the world's worst movies... The Room. It was everything I could have hoped for.
  • Shape of Water A beautiful film with fantastic effects, sets, and acting which was somewhat hampered by being entirely predictable right up until the last frame. Still, very glad I saw it, though I wish I had managed to see it in a theater.
  • Darkest Hour Easily Gary Oldman's best performance, it was everything you'd expect from such a heavily lauded and award-nominated film.
  • Downsizing Not at all what I expected. The ads implied it was a comedy, but completely left out the darker nature of the movie. Enjoyed it quite a bit once I got into it.
  • Dealt A documentary about one of the foremost card magicians in the world... who happens to be blind. The film runs in two tracks, one devoted to Richard Turner's magical talents, the other to his blindness, and both are fascinating. Highly recommended.

And... next stop, Schiphol...

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Day Two: Arnhem

Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Dave!Traveling with one blogger friend to meet up with another blogger friend has to be one of the better things to come out of the internet.

That so few bloggers are out there now is more than a little depressing to me.

   

Day Three: Antwerp

Posted on Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Dave!I haven't been to Antwerp for decades, but decided to make the trip so I could see the Hard Rock Cafe which was added there. I don't know that it was worth the trip, but it did allow for time to visit with The Woman Formerly Known as DutchBitch, and we decided to make a lunch of it.

An hour and forty-five minutes later, and we were deposited at Antwerp's lovely Central Station...

Antwerp Central Station

   
The cafe is small, but has a decent collection of memorabilia going on...

Antwerp Hard Rock Cafe

Antwerp Hard Rock Cafe

Antwerp Hard Rock Cafe

Antwerp Hard Rock Cafe

   
With n hour to kill until our return train, we walked through the city a bit. This was a creative approach to public art I don't recall seeing before...

Antwerp City Walk

   
Not that it was the only public work on display...

Antwerp City Walk

Antwerp City Walk

   
And for anybody worried that McDonalds, Starbucks, and Kentucky Fried Chicken was the end of American exports abroad, you'll be happy to know that Five Guys has gone global...

Antwerp City Walk

   
And with that, we said adieu to Antwerp.

   

Day Four: Keukenhof, Part One

Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2018

Dave!One of the nicest places to visit in the Netherlands is the Keukenhof, which is all tulips all the time. Well, at least for the time that they are open, which is about mid-to-late-March to mid-May. I've visited a couple times before (here and here), and always have a good time walking around photographing the flowers and taking in the smells that only a billion flowers can provide.

For this trip, I took my Sony 90mm Macro FE lens, which was purchased specifically for situations like this. Even though I didn't really do much "deep macro" with it, I was able to get some beautiful shots that only a lens of this quality can provide. Perhaps next time I will take a tripod and do some "real" macro, which would be an interesting way to make the journey feel new again...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

To be continued...

   

Day Four: Keukenhof, Part Two

Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2018

Dave!Usually when I take hundreds of vacation photos, I go back to my hotel and immediately purge 50-60% of them. Then I take a good hard look at what's left and delete another bunch of them if I can. Since digital photography makes it so easy (and cheap!) to shoot loads of photos, I always shoot way more than I need just in case I missed something that my be covered in other shots. But to save all those photos would be absurd, as I'd never want to look at crappy images, nor do I want to pour through a bunch of duplicates.

My day at the Keukenhof resulted in two-hundred-and-sixty-eight photos.

I only deleted twenty-two of them.

Everything was just too great to dump.

I did, however, manage to whittle down the ones I was going to post here to fifty, which I divided into two parts because it seemed the easier way to fly.

Every year there's a theme to the Keukenhof's grand display. Last time I was here I think it was orchids. This time it was roses and romance, which was a cool exhibit to see. Roses are just so beautiful when you look at the delicate folds that make them what they are. I couldn't stop photographing them...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

   
I think my favorite flower I saw was this one, which looked more like fake paper cut-out flowers rather than actual vegetation. I wish I had thought to look up the name...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

   
In my past three visits, I never once saw a bee. This time I saw two of them, including this industrious fellow...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

   
A friend came down from Amsterdam to walk around the gardens with me. We were discussing something to do with photography when I young boy heard us speaking in English. He poked at my leg, and I looked down at him only to have this conversation...

"I know the name of all the flowers!"
"That's nice."
"I know the name of all the flowers!"
"Oh. Okay... what's this one?"
"I don't know that one."
"I see. What's this one?"
"I don't know that one."
"Ah. What flower do you know?"
"That is a tulip."
"Alrighty then."

Later we were walking by a pond where there were a couple ducks. The same little boy was yelling "QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!" This was a new level of annoying, and I wondered if I should ask him for more fascinating tulip facts, but thought it better to leave well enough alone...

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

Flowers of the Keukenhof

   
And that's it for this edition of NAME! THAT! FLOWER!

   

Day Five: AMS -> BUD

Posted on Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Dave!This morning consisted of a run to Amersfoort to meet up with my extended-extended family for lunch. It was the weekend of the Smartlappenfestival, where people are dressing up and singing old-time Dutch "tearjerker" songs in the street. The DutchBitch makes fun of me for liking smartlap, but I actually do! It's kinda like polka... it's usually got an accordion... but different somehow...

Smartlappenfestival in Amersfoort

   
After a lovely lunch with some lovely people, it was time to pack up my crap and head to the airport for a flight to Budapest. For whatever reason, the cost to fly Sunday morning was nearly $500 more(!) than flying out Saturday evening, so I bit the bullet and left tonight knowing that the cost for an additional hotel night was by far the cheaper option.

The flight was pleasant and uneventful as usual (one of the reasons I'm happy to pay the slightly higher premium to fly KLM Cityhopper instead of a budget airline).

And so here I am in lovely Budapest for the first time. Where my hotel really seems to like paper airplanes...

Hotel IBIS Budapest Airport

Hotel IBIS Budapest Airport

Hotel IBIS Budapest Airport

Big fun will ensue tomorrow, I'm sure. But for now? Good night.

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Day Six: Budapest, Part One

Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Dave!Originally, I was spending five days, four nights in Budapest. It's a city I've been wanting to visit for a very long time, and there's a ton of stuff I want to do here. Then I finally managed to get yet another eye surgery scheduled after months of trying, so my European vacation had to be cut from two weeks to one. Which meant that my time in the "Pearl of the Danube" had to be cut down to two nights and one day.

Still, I managed to pack a lot into this one day. So I'm going to divide it up into four entries.

With such limited time available, I was going to get up and head into Budapest early. But the weather was yucky foggy(!) out, and so I decided to sleep in an extra two hours.

After taking the train into the city, I dropped off my backpack at the hotel and headed across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge so I could make my way up to Buda Castle...

Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest

Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest

Interesting note: The bridge was blown up in World War II by the Germans after they retreated across it. The towers were still there, but everything else had to be rebuilt. I think the lion sculptures at both ends survived, which is good because they're pretty cool...

Széchenyi Chain Bridge Lions in Budapest

   
My original plan was to ride up the funicular to the castle, but walk down. With every minute precious, I ended up taking it both ways...

Buda Castle

Budapest Buda Hill Funicular

The views at the top are pretty great...

Budapest Buda Castle

Budapest Buda Castle

Budapest Buda Castle

Budapest Buda Castle

Budapest Buda Castle

Budapest Buda Castle

Budapest Buda Castle

   
One of the more amazing sights was behind the castle where there's this walkway under flowering trees. The shade of pink on display is unreal, and I could have spent an hour just photographing them...

Budapest Buda Castle Flower Tree Walk

Budapest Buda Castle Flower Tree Walk

Budapest Buda Castle Flower Tree Walk

Budapest Buda Castle Flower Tree Walk

   
Along the way I ran across a... I dunno... post or broken water fountain maybe? It was especially cool how the text was carved into it...

Budapest Buda Castle

Budapest Buda Castle

   
Next up in Part 2... Fisherman's Bastion and the incredible Matthias Church!

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Day Six: Budapest, Part Two

Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Dave!From Buda Castle I walked to the area known as "Halászbástya"... or "Fisherman's Bastion" in English. The reason that this end of castle hill has that name is because the local fishermen's guild was responsible for defending it. The bastion itself is pretty nifty, with great views across the Danube River to the Pest side of the city...

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

   
Fisherman's Bastion is home to the incredible Matthias Church. If I were to make a "must-see list" for Budapest, this church would unquestionably be at the top of it. It's a painted church (though not the Painted Church) which is my favorite kind of church (probably because I've seen so many gothic cathedrals in my time that I welcome the opportunity to see something different). The outside is kinda familiar if you've seen a lot of European churches, but the pretty tile roof and awesome moon and star weather vane give you a hint what you'll find inside...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

   
And speaking of inside...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

I took a lot of photos of those painted walls... fascinated that so many disparate patterns ended up looking so amazingly awesome together...

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

   
Meanwhile, back to my tour...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

   
I could have spent a couple hours here easy, but hadn't eaten all day and needed to grab a bite before more exploring. So I headed back to the Pest side of the Danube, which you can read all about in Part Three!

   

Day Six: Budapest, Part Three

Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Dave!I would have wanted to visit Budapest even if there were not a Hard Rock Cafe here, but since there is, I definitely wanted to drop by for a shot glass, T-shirt, and a couple pins. And a late lunch. Just enough to tide me over until I found some kind of awesome Hungarian vegetarian meal for dinner.

The Hard Rock Budapest is a fairly small property, but has a good assortment of memorabilia...

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

It also has a nice view of the square below...

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

   
Wanting to get the most out of my 24-hour public transit card, I headed to City Park and Vajdahunyad Castle. There's a museum about agriculture inside, but I didn't have the time to spend visiting it...

Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest

Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest

   
Behind the castle is Hősök tere, which means "Heroes' Square" in English. In addition to housing Hungary's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, there are statues of various important Hungarian leaders at one end. As you could probably guess, this has been the site of many political demonstrations over the years...

Heroes' Square - Hősök tere Budapest

Heroes' Square - Hősök tere Budapest

Heroes' Square - Hősök tere Budapest

   
As I was speeding my way back towards the Danube, I saw this funky piece of art in one of the subway stations and had to get a photo. No idea what it means...

Dog Leads Man Sculpture in Budapest

   
The Hungarian Parliament Building is famous for the way it lights up at night, but it's not quite getting dark yet. Doesn't stop me from pulling my camera out as I pass by though...

Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest

   
At the river, I eventually find what I'm looking for... the "Shoes on the Danube Bank" memorial. During World War II, people (mostly Jews and Romani) were brought here to the river bank to be shot by the Nazi-inspired fascist regime of the day (called The Arrow Cross Party), but were told to remove their shoes first...

Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest

Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest

   
Exhausted from running around like a madman all day, I headed back towards my hotel to get some dinner and rest up for some night photography. I didn't know what might be available for vegetarians, but thought my best bet would be at a collection of food stands in the square nearby. Sure enough, I ran across "Lángos" or "Hungarian Flatbread," which is pieces of deep-fat-fried dough that's slathered in sour cream then topped with a mountain of grated cheese...

Hungarian Flatbread Lángos in Budapest

Hungarian Flatbread Lángos in Budapest

Pretty close to heaven for somebody like me!

And... one more entry left to wrap things up...

   

Day Six: Budapest, Part Four

Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Dave!And here we are at the end of my busy day in Budapest. Since I have to be at the train station by 7:30 in the morning, there ain't no more after this.

Odds are if you've ever been looking at photos of Budapest, you'll undoubtedly run across that classic shot of the Hungarian Parliament Building all lit up at night. The city is kinda famous for it, and I wanted a shot of my very own.

After sprinting across the Danube... or, to be more precise, under the Danube on the subway... I sat on the bank across from the building waiting for night to fall and the magic to happen.

The lights start off small at first. Just little glowing dots appearing across the exterior...

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

But before too long, the whole building is flooded in golden light. It is most certainly a pretty sight...

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

   
Continuing down the West bank of the river, I make my way back towards the Chain Bridge...

Chain Bridge at night in Budapest

   
I had purchased an extra funicular ticket on my first ride up Castle Hill because I wanted to look down on the city with all the lights on...

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

On my previous funicular rides, I didn't have very good angle to film the experience. This time I did, and here's what that looks like...

   
And that's all she wrote, folks. Time to head back across the river so I can get some sleep before heading out in the morning...

Budapest at Night

Until next time, Budapest...

   

Day Seven: Vienna

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2018

Dave!Vienna is a city with historical significance that I have long wanted to visit. When it got a Hard Rock Cafe 2-1/2 years ago, I finally had the excuse I needed to plan a trip. That being said, Vienna is a hard sell if you don't like classical music and horses, as they seem to be the life-blood of the city. Neither of those things interest me, so I tended to focus on the architecture and art, both of which interest me very much.

By train, Vienna is a swift 2-1/2 hours from Budapest. I always spring the small amount extra for a First Class ticket, which seems to result in less hassle during border crossings. I left at 7:30 in the morning and was surprised that there were only two other people in my coach...

On the Train to Vienna

   
As expected, the city is incredibly well-connected with public transportation, including a system of trams and subways that makes navigation a snap. Walking to my hotel, the first photo I snapped on this dreary Monday encapsulated Vienna pretty well...

Horse-Drawn Carriage in Vienna

   
I hadn't eaten breakfast, so my first stop was the Hard Rock for a quick bite. It's nice, but one of the fairly boring new "hipster chic" properties I'm not a fan of...

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

   
My first stop after lunch was to run out to Schönbrunn Palace. Don't ask me why. I always end up regretting it after visiting palaces, and this was no exception. It's all "Here's a sitting room. Here's a sitting room. Here's a sitting room. Here's a sitting room. Here's a bedroom. Here's a sitting room." Which begs the question... exactly how many places did these people need to sit down? I didn't spend much time after I saw that Schönbrunn was just more of the same thing I've seen a dozen times before...

Schönbrunn Palace

   
Back in the city proper, I decided to wander around and look at architecture, which could keep me occupied for days. There's just so much to see...

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

   
There is, of course, a cathedral. It's pretty much par-for-the-course when it comes to gothic European cathedrals...

Vienna Cathedral

Vienna Cathedral

Vienna Cathedral

My final stop for the day was the Albertina Museum, where I knew there was a "Monet to Picasso" exhibit that was definitely worth my valuable time to visit. What I didn't know was that there was also a new Keith Haring exhibit, which was just icing on the cake...

Vienna Albertina Museum

Vienna Albertina Museum

Vienna Albertina Museum

Vienna Albertina Museum

Vienna Albertina Museum

Phenomenal exhibit. Fantastic museum.

   
After spending way too much time looking at art, everything was starting to close, so I decided to track down a falafel shop for dinner...

Falafel in Vienna

   
And now? Time for sleep. I have two very important stops to make tomorrow before flying back to the Netherlands, and I want to be sure to be rested up.

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Day Eight: Vienna

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Dave!When I had to lop a week off my vacation, Budapest dropped from four nights to two, Vienna dropped from three nights to one. This is a tragically short amount of time in either city when you haven't visited before, but I tried my best to see as much as I could in the time I had.

When it comes to Vienna, my primary goal was to see some art by Klimt, his works having a wonderful art-deco sensibility that I love.

My first stop was to be at the gates of the Belvedere Palace Museum, home to Klimt's most famous work... The Kiss, when they opened for the day. That way I could rush to the Klimt works before people (ugh!) got in the way. As a bonus, the weather was much nicer this time around...

Klimt at the Belvedere Palace Museum

Klimt at the Belvedere Palace Museum

The Kiss is absolutely stunning in person. It's about 6-foot square, and has a luminescence you're never going to capture in a photo, but here we go anyway...

Klimt The Kiss

Klimt The Kiss

When you get really close, the texture and construction packed into the piece is mesmerizing...

Klimt The Kiss

   
There are more Klimts, but they all kind of pale in comparison...

Klimt

   
The museum houses other wonderful works as well, and it sure was nice to see them without people (ugh!) mucking about. Well worth arriving early...

Belvedere Palace Museum

Belvedere Palace Museum

Belvedere Palace Museum

   
The palace itself is magnificent. And turning it into a museum is a far better use than an endless parade of sitting rooms...

Belvedere Palace Museum

   
After exploring the Belvedere, I took a tram to the other site I really wanted to see before I left... the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. To mark the 100th year since Klimt's death, they have constructed a massive "Stairway to Klimt" which spans the main atrium and allows you to see his paintings there at eye-level. It's pretty incredible...

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

   
The opportunity to see these works in this way is akin to magic...

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

   
As if that weren't enough, Nuda Veritas from a private collection is on loan while "Stairway to Klimt" is running...

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

   
The museum has a lot of different works, but I didn't have much time to spend with them... instead breezing through most everything. I did spend a little more time with their Egyptian artifacts though...

Kunsthistorisches Museum Egyptian

Kunsthistorisches Museum Egyptian

   
As I was headed back to my hotel so I could pack up and catch my flight, the weather was really getting nice. Such a shame I couldn't stay and enjoy it...

Vienna

   
And, just like that, my time in Vienna was over.

One subway stop and a 16-minute "City Airport Train" ride later and I was winging my way back to DutchyLand.

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Day Nine: AMS -> SEA

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Dave!After a week of rushing around Europe trying to condense fourteen days into seven, I was looking forward to heading home where I could have a vacation from my vacation... by returning to work! After my first relaxing morning since I got here, the DutchBitch took me to the airport and off I went.

Well, kinda.

The flight was delayed because the PA system was down. Apparently the part they needed to fix it was not on-site, which meant we were 90 minutes late taking off. Ironically, the PA system went down again just before landing in Seattle, so apparently it wasn't as repaired as they thought it would be.

And speaking of things not being fixed...

The replacement part from IKEA for their defective wood staining never arrived, and all attempts to get a tracking number failed. Their promise of "7 to 10 days" for delivery has now ballooned to 23 days, with no end in sight. I'm sick-and-tired of having half-finished IKEA sitting on my kitchen table, so I decided to brave rush-hour traffic to pick up the damn thing in person. It was all I could do to contain my rage that I was having to add 30 to 40 minutes delay to my already-delayed drive home because IKEA customer service sucks, but what other option did I have?

I finally arrived at my driveway shortly after 9:00pm, which doesn't sound bad until you take into consideration that I had been up for nearly 20 hours straight.

Perhaps one of these years I'll finally figure out how to sleep on a plane, but that was not today.

   
UPDATE: And of course IKEA finally sends me the damn part... one day after I already went and picked it up...

FedEx Tracking Number from IKEA

   
How very typical.

Oh well. I managed to get my shelving customized and assembled this morning, so at least I won't have it mucking up my weekend like I would have if I had waited.

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Shoe Money Tonight!

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Dave!For the money, the most versatile piece of furniture I've found has been HEMNES Shoe cabinets from IKEA. At just $99 each, The four-drawer version is nicely shallow... just 8-5/8" deep... and since it mounts directly to the wall and there's no rear legs to push it away from the molding, there's no wasted space. On top of that, the drawers themselves are deep and spacious so they are actually useful. Not just for shoes (though they are great for storing shoes) but for all kinds of things (the one in my kitchen holds placemats and napkins!).

Once I found out that I wouldn't be able to wall-mount my SONOS One speakers as I originally planned, my first thought was to purchase a couple of HEMNES units, drill holes in the top, then hide the SONOS cords behind them. They're the perfect height, allowing the speakers to rise just above my couch...

IKEA Hemnes Show Cabinets for Sonos One

IKEA Hemnes Show Cabinets for Sonos One

Since the table-top on these extends from the ends of the cabinet, I had to modify them slightly so I could get the two units to sit flush against each other, but they turned out great. Even more importantly, they work perfectly for giving me excellent surround sound.

And, as a bonus, my LaserDisc collection now has a home. A perfect home, actually, since they are stored vertically, but pull down at an angle so I can read the spines easily...

IKEA Hemnes Show Cabinets for Sonos One

It's kind of weird that I now have seven of these shoe cabinets in my home considering I don't own many shoes, but they're just so versatile and functional. The shallow depth also means they can go just about anywhere. Yes, quality control at IKEA is shitty and you may get a defective part that will need replacing, but if you've got a tight spot you're looking to fill, these are definitely worth a look.

Something tells me I haven't purchased my last Hemnes shoe cabinet.

   

Superman in Action Comics

Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2018

Dave!I've never been a "Superman guy."

Not that I didn't like the character... on the contrary, I own hundreds and hundreds of Superman comic books. My problem is that Superman, as a character, never made much sense to me. And I never really knew why. I always assumed that it was because I was more of a "Batman guy," having put more stock into the idea that a rich guy wanting to fight crime to avenge his parents made more sense than an alien with god-like powers wanting to be a newspaper reporter.

Then I saw Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill...

   
And there it was...

"Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."

It wasn't that Superman wanted to be a newspaper reporter... it was that Superman wanted to be human at all. The excuse has always been that he slums with humans as a way to not lose touch with the humanity he found while being raised by the Kents. That's all well and good... but it still doesn't make much sense. He's an adult man. If he's still worried about losing his humanity by now, he might as well give up. "Fake it until you make it" may be a valid course of action for a job... but for being human?

And considering he can toss planets around with his bare hands, how human could he ever really be? I don't get it.

But apparently a lot of people do, because Superman is in a comic book that just hit 1000 issues...

XXX

   
The best Superman stories are always those which come up with a way of finding something new while maintaining the continuity which came before. The best of the best being Alan Moore's For the Man Who Has Everything and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman. There have been others I've enjoyed, but they usually involve some kind of smart take on why Superman is the way he is... not stories that come up with somebody bigger and stronger to pound on Superman for a few issues.

And don't get me started on the current cinematic take on Superman with Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League, which just plain suck because they are exactly what make a bad Superman story.

But anyway... back to Action Comics #1000...

I haven't been following the character since George Pérez jumped ship after the New 52 reboot years ago. I am aware that there was yet another reboot called "Rebirth" last year, but I haven't read any of it. So you can imagine my surprise when I find that Superman is married to Lois Lane and has a son named Jon that is Superboy. Not that this really affects what's happening in Action Comics #1000, but it's still something that permeates the issue.

The bulk of the issue is a love-letter to Superman by a chunk of very talented writers and artists and it's mostly wonderful. Many of the things you would hope to find in a landmark issue like this are there. And then there's the money-story... Brian Michael Bendis starting his run on the character with artwork by Jim Lee!

And what we get is... meh.

Because here we go again, somebody bigger and stronger to pound on Superman for a few issues. There's a twist, of course, but its one that's of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. In general, I like the stuff that Bendis does, but I'll not be tuning in for this. I'm just not a big enough Superman fan to get involved... especially when DC is probably going to reboot the Rebirth reboot to the New 52 reboot to the Flashpoint reboot to the Infinite Crisis reboot to the Zero Hour reboot to the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot.

Maybe I'll have a change of heart in the reboot after that. You never know.

   

Caturday 58

Posted on Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Dave!And so I'm sick.

Which should come as no surprise. I spent over 10 hours trapped on a plane with a girl sitting behind me who was coughing her head off. Of course she wasn't even trying to cover her mouth... parents apparently don't teach that anymore... so I was in the blast zone of the little germ factory as I crossed the Atlantic and then the country.

Luckily, I've got cats who are sympathetic to my Man Cold and willing to offer comfort...

Sick with Jenny

Sick with Jenny

Sick with Jake

   
In other news... I heard a big bang against the screen on the catio and knew that Fake Jake was back. What I didn't expect to see was Jenny out there facing him down. If her brother was there with her, then maybe. But alone? That's my girl...

Jenny faces down Fake Jake

Jenny faces down Fake Jake

Sheesh. I really do need to clean those windows.

And one last thing before I go... when I was in Vienna waiting for my flight back to Amsterdam, I found a box of chocolates with Kitten Jake and Kitten Jenny on the front...

Jenny faces down Fake Jake

At first I thought it was chocolate cat treats meant for cats, but since chocolate isn't good for cats, I'm assuming it must be for cat-lovers who also like chocolate?

Or maybe chocolate-lovers who also like cats. Who can really say?

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Bullet Sunday 459

Posted on Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Dave!No time for me to wallow in being sick... because a brand new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Earther! Oh look... it's Earth Day! Happy Earth Day, everybody!

Flat Earth Dumbfuckery

Still makes me laugh.

   
• Westworld 2.0! When it comes to surprises, Westworld would certainly be up there. The first season was complex and satisfying in a way I never thought it would be. Now we've arrived at the second season, and it would seem as though we'll be getting more of the same...

Westworld Season 2

The weirdest thing about this new run is that the "hosts" which garnered sympathies in the first season are just as bad as the humans now. They are blazing a path of death and destruction that gives no quarter to anyone, and it will be interesting to see exactly how invested viewers can be with that. Time will tell.

   
• Mon-El! One of my favorite comic books from my youth was The Legion of Super-Heroes. A key member of that super-team is Mon-El, whom is currently appearing in the Supergirl television series. Yes, they've managed to screw it all up... Mon-El is married to Saturn Girl instead of dating Shawdow Lass, and Saturn Girl's husband Lightning Lad is nowhere to be found... but it's still been fun seeing him on television. I was confident that they would eventually have him "suit-up" but was disappointed with how they decided to do it...

Mon-El Costumes

The thing that always made Mon-El's costume interesting and unique was that he wore a kind of coat that went under his belt. They've done away with it, so now Mon-Ell just looks like dozens of other super-heroes. Boring. I mean, I know that concessions have to be made when translating from comic book to real life, but surely they could have done something to harken back to the source material.

   
• Danger Island! Everybody ready for new Archer this coming Wednesday?

After this, there's only one more season left. Which is really hard for me to wrap my head around. It just keeps getting better and better... why stop? Especially since there's no telling when we'll get new Rick and Morty.

   
• Le Google! And so... apparently Google has killed their /ncr (No Country Redirect) feature, meaning that there is apparently no way to get Google searches for USA English outside of the USA now. This sucks, but is hardly surprising. Companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the rest simply Do Not Give A Fuck about their users now. It's all about how to wring money out of them, not service their needs. So great. Now when I travel to foreign countries, I guess I have to learn a foreign language. This time around I couldn't even get a VPN to get me pages in English. Oh well. Time to search for a new search engine?

   
• Oh! Sandra Oh is remarkably talented. Sandra Oh fully deserves to head a show. Sandra Oh is incredible in Killing Eve...

“One thing I will share with you—when I got the script for Killing Eve, I remember I was walking around in Brooklyn and I was on my phone with my agent, Nancy. I was quickly scrolling down the script, and I can’t really tell you what I was looking for. So I’m like, ‘So Nancy, I don’t understand, what’s the part?’ And Nancy goes ‘Sweetheart, it’s Eve, it’s Eve.’ In that moment, I did not assume the offer was for Eve. I think about that moment a lot,” Oh told Vulture reporter E. Alex Jung. “It’s like, how does racism define your work? Oh my goodness, I didn’t even assume when being offered something that I would be one of the central storytellers. Why? And this is me talking, right? After being told to see things a certain way for decades, you realize, ‘Oh my god! They brainwashed me!’ I was brainwashed! So that was a revelation to me.”

Thank heavens attitudes are changing... just not fast enough.

   
No more bullets. Time for me to carry on being sick.

   

Ban Hammer

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Dave!As somebody who is passionate about world travel and the free exchange of ideas around the globe, today is a sad day for me. After years of hacking attacks on my blogs which result in dozens of lock-out notices being generated every day, I've just banned a huge chunk of IP addresses from access... including all of China, Russia, and goodly chunks of several other Asian countries that are currently on the blacklist maintained by Wizcrafts.

Will this stop hacking attempts? No. I'm sure plenty of hackers will use spoofing or VPN services to keep trying. That's part of the game, and I accept it. But, after my second malware exploit this year, I had to do something to try and make it more difficult for hackers to get through, and this was my last resort.

I get no pleasure from it.

Denying access to somebody in China or Russia who runs across Blogography in a Google search and has genuine interest in something I have to say goes against my entire reason for having a blog. But I've been left with little choice. Every time my site is exploited, it takes precious time I don't have to fix it. I either have to do my best to block these hacks before they happen... or shut down my blogs entirely.

So here we are.

As is always the case, the few are ruining things for the many.

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Bike vs. Parkour: FIGHT!

Posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Dave!There's always a special thrill reserved for those times I happen upon my favorite city on earth being featured somewhere.

Especially when it's in a way that's as cool and unique as this...


   
=sigh= And now I want to be back in Scotland.

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Happy World Penguin Day!

Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Dave!It's World Penguin Day! A holiday I never even knew existed until they started appearing everywhere I went on the internet.

I'm rather fond of penguins, and am thrilled that I have been able to get up-close-and-personal with them on my recent trip to Antarctica. Certainly interesting enough creatures to deserve a day of their own...

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Thepenguin

   
Until next year...

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Tarzan Is Not an Ape

Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Dave!I started paying for CBS All Access because it was the only way to watch Star Trek: Discovery. I kept paying so I could watch The Good Fight. In-between all that, I started re-watching episodes of 60 Minutes, a show I've never had much interest in until I found out that CBS All Access has nearly 200 episodes available for streaming. My biggest problem with the show is how they take interesting subjects and drag them out to the point of tedium. Which is why it's such a great show to have running as background noise while I work. I can safely ignore it while still absorbing relevant snippets.

Until something pops up that destroys my ability to ignore it.

While watching an old 60 Minutes segment on Bob Mankoff... cartoon editor of The New Yorker... there was a segment about cartoonists pitching their latest yucks to him. Most of the cartoons get rejected, but a few get through. Among them is a cartoon about Tarzan...

Tarzan Cartoon in the New Yorker Bullshit

Tarzan Cartoon in the New Yorker Bullshit

Mankoff: "The apes are saying 'We found you and raised you as one of us, so we were just wondering at what point did you learn to shave?"

Cartoonist: "I have researched this. There is no iteration of Tarzan in literature, comic books, or movies in which he has facial hair. It makes no sense!"

Doesn't make sense?

Bullshit.

Bull.

Fucking.

Shit.

You don't have to be a Tarzan fan like me who has read all the books dozens of times to know this is 100% bullshit.

In the very first book... Tarzan of the Apes... the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel that started it all... the original Tarzan source for all the literature, comic books, and movies... it is explained that Tarzan started scraping the hair from his face because he understood he was a man, not an ape, and he was afraid of turning into an ape...

“But of these things Tarzan did not think. He was worried because he had not clothing to indicate to all the jungle folks that he was a man and not an ape, and grave doubt often entered his mind as to whether he might not yet become an ape.
   
Was not hair commencing to grow upon his face? All the apes had hair upon theirs but the black men were entirely hairless, with very few exceptions.
   
True, he had seen pictures in his books of men with great masses of hair upon lip and cheek and chin, but, nevertheless, Tarzan was afraid. Almost daily he whetted his keen knife and scraped and whittled at his young beard to eradicate this degrading emblem of apehood.
   
And so he learned to shave—rudely and painfully, it is true—but, nevertheless, effectively."

   
—Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

Which begs the question... exactly how much "research" did this cartoonist do that he didn't run across the reason his cartoon is stupid? Apparently he didn't even read half-way through the first Tarzan book.

I wish I knew why crap like this pisses me off.

Is it because the cartoonist lied and obviously didn't research anything? Is it because I get sick and tired of Tarzan being continuously misrepresented? Who knows. I wish it didn't piss me off, because then I wouldn't have to stop working so I can blog about it.

   

Under the Counter

Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2018

Dave!After catching a doozy of a cold on the plane back from Europe, I've spent my entire week mired in a miserable haze of over-the-counter medication abuse. Partly because I hate hate hate being sick... but mostly because I can't work when I'm sneezing and coughing my head off. This morning I finally turned a corner and felt well enough that I only took a single dose of cold meds instead of a double dose, so... putting one in the "win" column, I guess.

Where I most definitely did not win was having to skip the midnight premiere of Avengers: Infinity War last night. Because what would suck more than skipping it would be to dope up on cough suppressants then falling asleep half-way through...

XXX

Oh well.

Guess I get to spend the next several days avoiding spoilers until I find a day I can get away to see it.

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Caturday 59

Posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Dave!And it's officially Catio Season!

Jake and Jenny are out in the catio almost every day, regardless of weather. Freezing temperatures, snow or rain, they love being outdoors. But now is the time of year where they spend more time out in the catio than inside. The sun has changed position, so they can bask in its glory while enjoying fresh air as well...

Catio Cats

Jenny especially loves it. Jake is happy to lay on top of the cat tree in the window to get his sunlight fix. Jenny will always choose the catio...

Catio Cats

Not that Jake doesn't have his moments. While I was in Europe, he spent the night out in the catio, which I've never seen happen before. And... he still loves keeping a look out for Fake Jake, where confrontations are ramping up as the weather improves...

Catio Cats

   
Trying to get a jump on packing for my next trip later this week, I've run into the usual obstacle...

Cats and Suitcases

   
I was expecting that as my cats got older they would become more independent and want nothing to do with me. If anything, the opposite is happening. No matter where Jenny is in the house, if she hears me turn on the television in my bedroom, she dashes up right away. She can sit there watching television for hours...

Jenny Television Watching Cat

   
Jake has no interest in television, but he does have a huge interest in sleeping. Last night he spent the night on my bed, which has never happened before. I dozed off and was surprised to find him still around when I woke up...

Jake a Bedroom Snuggler

As I turned off the lights and was falling back asleep, Jake started purring like a motorboat. I couldn't see what he was so happy about, so I used the flash on my iPhone...

Jake a Bedroom Snuggler

Apparently he's liking the ceiling fan drying off his undercarriage.

This morning he was still there...

Jake a Bedroom Snuggler

   
And speaking of things still being around... Jake dragged Mufasa in this morning. I hadn't seen his prized lion since I got back from Europe, so I thought he had been lost or destroyed. Nope...

Mufasa Returns

He probably hid it. Forgot where he hid it. Then found it again.

Why he hides Mufasa was apparent just minutes after Jake ran downstairs for a drink of water. Jenny started tearing into him

Mufasa Returns

I'm shocked that she hasn't shredded Mufasa to bits by now. Really hoping that one of my friends passing through Johannesburg O. R. Tambo International Airport can pick up some more Mufasas because I'm not sure how upset Jake will be if he ever loses the one he has.

And... so much for the last Caturday in April.

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Bullet Sunday 460

Posted on Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Dave!An abundance of sunshine is headed your way... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Gnats! I don't live in the South. But this video made me LOL because most every year gnats show up for three or four days here and it's exactly this...

Another thing that came my way that got me to thinking is this story link, which is exactly the kind of thing you want to be thinking about since mid-term elections are seven months away.

   
• Four-Twenty Day! This is seriously funnier than most stand up specials I've seen...

Dayam!

   
• WHCD! This year they had another Daily Show corespondent host the White House Correspondence Dinner, Michelle Wolf. In my humble opinion, it was a less than stellar performance. Not because the things she said weren't truthful or relevant... I think she hit the right notes there... but because her humor wasn't landing. Skewering people is fine, that's what the dinner is for. But you have to make it sound more lighthearted than just being mean. I think back to Hasan Minhaj's brilliant commentary last year where he totally killed it without going vile, and feel that's a better take on how to do it...

Of course, everybody pales when compared to the absolute master of the White House Correpondence Dinner... President Obama...

Too good to be true in so many ways.

   
• Good Medicine! Then again, no fancy dinner can compare to a solid dose of truth delivered in desperate times...

This is where we are. The current administration is doing nothing to fix anything.

   
• Faux Friends! As for the actually president of these United States of America? Still unhinged, completely detached from reality, and bat-shit insane...

I have no idea... none... how anybody supports this deranged shit show.

   
• New Twins! It's no secret that one of my favorite bands of all time is the Thompson Twins. Which is why it's no surprise that I was thrilled when the group's front-man, Tom Bailey, started touring again. And now? New music!

Tom Bailey's Science Fiction

If you want to support his efforts (which will hopefully be more like a new Thompson's Twins album than anything radically different), you can head over to his page on Pledge Music.

   
Until next week, just keep swimming...

   

Not Actual Size

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2018

Dave!It's tough to fault Marvel Studios for their slate of movies. I love all of them. Some more than others, of course, but each one has a certain something that makes it a comic book geek's dream come true.

One film that always seems to get lost in the shuffle is Ant Man, which is a real shame because it's such a good movie. It's an awesome caper flick that just happens to have a super-hero in it.

And it's really funny.

And now the trailer for the sequel, Ant Man and The Wasp, has dropped. No surprise, it looks like a total home run...

What shocks me about the trailer is just how seamless the special effects are. Every unreal moment is handled so flawlessly as to accentuate the unique nature of the story... not distract from it... and that's not nothin'.

Interesting to note that Marvel is finally addressing one of the biggest flaws of their films. The villain is usually just a duplicate of the hero with the same powers and abilities. This time? Ghost has an entirely different power set, which is great...

Ant-Man and The Wasp Movie Poster

This movie pre-dates Avengers: Infinity War for obvious reasons... it's a two-parter that won't complete until next year. Typical to Ant-Man, this is explained in the best way possible...

I can't wait to see this movie.

And I haven't even seen Infinity War yet!

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