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Behind the Scenes: LEGO Craig

Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

Dave!Ages ago (when blogging was still a thing) I had "met" a guy named Craig on his blog, Puntabulous! It was one of the funniest things I've ever read and I became an immediate fan (so much so that I ended up guest-posting there). Sadly, Puntabulous! Has been lost to the ages (and the Wayback Machine has only spotty entries archived). Currently Craig's old site seems to have been poached by a Slovakian link farm or something, but we'll always have the memories!

Fast-forward nine years and I'm part of a gift exchange where, miracle of miracles, I get Craig's name. I'm never sure what I am supposed to buy for gift exchanges, so I decided to to mash-up some of his favorite things and make something for him (the only way I could be sure I wasn't getting him something he already had!). And those things are... LEGO, Power Rangers, Star Trek: The Next Generation, his boyfriend Steve, and his cabin.

Custom LEGO Craig posters it is then!

This is what I came up with...

LEGO Craig Posters

I am a huge fan of LEGO video games, so I thought I could just draw little minifies doing fun things and be done with it. Except it was a lot harder than it looked to get them looking "real" so I ended up downloading a 3D model that I could pose in Blender...

LEGO Craig Posters

LEGO Craig Posters

Then drop them into the layouts I had come up with...

LEGO Craig Posters

   
Power Rangers: Ninja Craig

I didn't know much about the Power Rangers except that they would scream "It's Morphin Time!" and transform from super-powered-ninjas into robot dinosaurs. Or something like that. After little Google research I found out there were loads of Power Rangers series. I liked the logo for Ninja Steel because I could turn it into Ninja Craig. All I had to do was drop in Steve Blue Ranger and Rita Repulsa, and, done...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

At first I had the same generic helmets for both Rangers but, upon closer inspection, I noticed that all the Rangers had different helmets! This meant I had to go back and re-draw them to be accurate...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

   
Star Trek: The Craig Generation

I'm more of a "original series" guy than a "Next Generation guy," but had seen all the episodes (of course), so it was easy to decide what I wanted to do...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

I drew Craig as Number One, Steve as Data, and was planning on putting a LEGO Enterprise-D in the background. But I could never get it to look recognizable in simple LEGO form. Then I did some cyber-stalking and found a photo of Craig wearing a T-shirt that had the "LEGO Space" logo drawn as an X-Wing circling the Death Star...

LEGO Star Wars

Very cool! The original logo is the one I grew up with and looks like this...

LEGO Space Logo

It was made cool again when they introduced Benny in The LEGO Movie ...

LEGO Movie Benny SPACESHIP!

It was a simple matter to redraw it for Star Trek: The Next Generation like so...

LEGO Star Trek

   
Craig's Cabin

My original idea (shown in my sketch above) was to have LEGO Craig in a majestic pose while Steve was being surprised by a bear in the background. The LEGO bear is a rare piece that goes for big money on eBay, but I was able to find enough photos of it that I could probably draw it. Problem is, the LEGO bear is kinda hard to recognize in a cartoon drawing, so I decided to give poor LEGO Steve a break and attempt to draw Craig's actual cabin in LEGO back there...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

It ended up looking pretty good once I got the LEGO studs on the roof panels. Then I added some happy little LEGO trees and happy little LEGO plants and I was good to go. But my favorite part is the plaid shirt "print" on LEGO Craig...

LEGO Star Trek

   

Fun!

Has me anxious for February 2019 to get here so I can see The LEGO Movie 2...

Who knew that LEGO DUPLO would end up being so evil?

   

Bullet Sunday 595

Posted on Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Dave!Don't let the long cold nights of winter get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Duck! It's no secret that I love museums. I've made it my mission in life to see many of the world's great (and not-so-great) museums as I can. Which is why I got a big kick out of this article: Museums around the world are soliciting duck pics from each other...

A very old duck photograph
Image Courtesy of The Museum of English Rural Life.

If you're even a little fan of art, this article is a must-see.

   
• Cars! These Walmart curbside pickup "cars" commercials are phenomenal...

I can't fathom how much money it cost to license all these properties.

   
• Akeem! One of my all-time favorite movies is Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in multiple roles. It's a great story chock-full of funny situations and had some real heart to it...

Coming to America Movie Poster

There are many other things to love about the film... namely James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair as Eddie Murphy's parents. But there are also the incredible designs for the country of Zamunda. Make no mistake, Zamunda was Wakanda way before Wakanda was the benchmark for fictional African countries!

And now it comes to light that there is a sequel in the works with Eddie Murphy reprising his role as Prince Akeem. Right now, I am deliriously happy about that. But given how badly things could go wrong, I'm also more than a little nervous.

   
• Again! Again! Speaking of an Eddie Murphy movie getting sequels... apparently Boomerang, another movie I love more than butter, is getting a television sequel...

Coming to America Movie Poster

The show will continue the story with Marcus and Angela's son and Jaqueline's daughter. No word if Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, or Robin Givens will be making an appearance. But I sure hope so. The thing that gives me hope is that Lena Waithe is onboard. As is Halle Berry as an executive producer. Fingers crossed.

   
• Monument! As somebody who loves travel photography but can't stand people walking through my shots, I was excited to hear about "Monument." This new technology that Adobe is developing will automatically remove moving objects from photos. It's a fascinating idea that I'm anxious to try out. There's a video which takes a look at Moment but Nick Offerman is an idiotic distraction throughout. Why in the hell they couldn't have just presented the tech without the comedic bullshit is beyond me...

It's only a matter of time before machine learning with this kind of smarts gets dropped into all our cameras. As popular attractions become more and more crowded, it will be a handy and very welcome thing to have.

   
• Puck! My new brown sugar container came with a small terra cotta coaster in the box. I was telling a friend about it and laughing because I don't have any glasses small enough to fit on it. "ARE YOU HIGH? YOU SOAK IT IN WATER AND PUT IT IN THE CONTAINER SO YOUR BROWN SUGAR DOESN'T DRY OUT!" In my defense, there weren't any instructions. Just the little puck thingy in a baggie. How was I to know?

Brown Sugar Terra Cotta Disc

Is this some secret everybody knows but me? Is there some brown sugar conspiracy to exclude me from this magic?

   
And... I'm spent. No more bullets for you.

   

Spidey Marvel Time!

Posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Dave!My only complaint about Marvel Studios is that they are restricting themselves to three movies per year. This seems lacking in ambition. I understand not wanting to crowd the theaters in a wash of super-hero films, but maybe after the 21st Century Fox merger is complete they will up their game a bit? Hopefully.

In the meanwhile...

The first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home dropped earlier this week...

The most obvious piece of new information here is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

He doesn't seem like he's a villain... yet? I guess?

From appearances, it would seem Peter Parker is being deputized by Nick Fury to become "Spider-Man: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." or something like that. Apparently to fight some elementals terrorizing Europe. That's seems pretty mundane and impersonal for a Marvel movie, so I'm guessing something (or more likely, someone) is behind it all.

Since the new Spider-Man takes place after Avengers: Endgame it's interesting to note that life on earth has returned to normal. Which means it returns to normal in Endgame. Which seems to indicate that Thanos and his snap were eradicated from the timeline? We shall see.

And then there's Captain Marvel...

New character posters for the forthcoming movie have been unleashed. Notably absent is a poster for Ronan the Accuser. Kinda weird that he didn't get one when everybody else did...

Captain Marvel / Carol Danvers, of course...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Agent Nick Fury, having been CGI youthed to his 90's self...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Agent Phil Coulson, likewise youthified...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Maria Rambeau, whom I'm guessing is future-hero Monica Rambeau's mom and fellow pilot...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Goose, Carol's cat... which is named "Chewie" in the comic books (after Chewbacca)... and is apparently named after Anthony Edward's Top Gun character here...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Mar-Vell(?) is the original Captain Marvel in the comic books but, since the origin is changing for the movies, he could be playing somebody completely different...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Korath, whose last appearance was in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Minn-Erva, an enemy of Carol in the comics, but apparently isn't that (yet) in the movie...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Talos, an evil alien Skrull shown here in his human form...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

??? No idea who Annette Bening is playing in the movie... Supreme Intelligence in human form perhaps...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

March 8th can't get here soon enough.

   

Hairy Obsolescence

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Dave!This morning before heading off to work I decided to dust off my entertainment center. It's a futile endeavor with two cats, because everything will go back to being covered in hair within seconds. As I was dodging in and out of the many crevasses with my Swiffer duster, I made my way to the fancy Blu-Ray player I had bought and couldn't recall the last time I used it. Probably to watch one of those rare movies I love that never made its way to digital.

This is more than a little depressing because the thing was top-of-the-line back in the day and cost me a small fortune. At the time it seemed like a wise investment because it could play both 3D and 4K Blu-ray discs. Little did I know that 3D would be a stupid feature because the special glasses eat batteries like crazy... and all the discs are glitchy.* As for 4K? Apple started releasing most new movies in 4K digitally (no Blu-Ray required) within months of my hooking up the player.

And so the pricey but useless piece of tech just sits there collecting more dust and hair until I want to watch Undercover Blues or True Lies or The Abyss or Strange Days again. WHICH JUST HAPPEN TO BE FOUR OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME...

Undercover Blues Movie

True Lies Movie

The Abyss Movie

Strange Days Movie

   

The rumor mill has been going on for years that James Cameron is working on bringing True Lies and The Abyss to Blu-Ray and (hopefully) digital. I have no idea what the holdup is with Kathryn Bigelow & James Cameron releasing Strange Days (which is oddly more relevant now than it was when it was released 20 years ago). And then there's Undercover Blues. This movie is 100% awesome, and it seems impossible that nobody has released it digitally since it actually has a Blu-Ray release (albeit not a great one).

So many television shows and movies that have been lost to time. It seems... weird... somehow, that everything released within the past 25 years isn't out there for digital purchase. Though I should count myself lucky. At least these movies have DVD releases. Entirely too many of my favorite television shows (like Jeremy Piven's Cupid and Alan Ball's Oh Grow Up!) do not.

Which has me wondering how long it will be before they won't be making DVD/Blu-Ray players any more. These things always seem to happen sooner than you think.

   
*Seriously, I have yet to find a 3D Blu-Ray which will play properly all the way through. Their quality is for shit.

   

Digitalization Proclamation

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2019

Dave!Are you converting your DVD/Blu-Ray library to digital? Upgrading your SD DVDs to digital HD?

Yesterday I talked about my Blu-Ray player and how I rarely use it. I haven't bought a DVD or Blu-Ray in years, preferring to purchase everything digitally. And mostly on sale. Few movies are worth paying full price for,* (usually if you wait a couple of months they'll drop to $10 or less). I do still have bunches of old DVDs and Blu-Ray discs hanging around. Those I watch over and over again I repurchased digitally for convenience... but most movies aren't worth buying twice.

Until Vudu joined up with Movies Anywhere, that is.

Movies Anywhere is an alliance of digital media stores and movie studios which allow you to buy a film from one store... then watch it at any other. Buy a movie from Google Play and, so long as it's a part of Movies Anywhere, it will show up in your Apple iTunes (or whatever).

This also goes for DVDs/Blu-Rays converted by Vudu, so long as...

  1. The movie is available digitally at Vudu (some aren't).
  2. The movie in question is participating in Movies Anywhere (some aren't).
  3. The movie is available for conversion (some aren't).

Assuming these conditions are true, you're in luck!

  • DVDs will covert to SD Digital for $2. Most of them can also convert to HD Digital for $5 if you prefer.
  • Most HD Blu-Rays will convert to HD Digital for $2. For some reason there are a few titles which will still cost $5 for HD.

Since I want to play everything on iTunes, here's how I've been converting my DVD/Blu-Ray library...

1) Look up my disc on MoviesAnywhere.com. If they have it, scroll to the bottom for the title info and verify that it's a part of Movies Anywhere...

Vudu Purchase

2) If the movie is eligible, I grab my iPhone and point its browser to Vudu.com/disc (GPS location and camera are required). From there you can scan the UPC code off of you DVD or Blu-Ray and see if it's available for digital conversion...

Vudu Purchase

3) If it is, you select SD or HD, and off you go!

For older movies I own on DVD, I mostly choose the cheaper $2 conversion. Many modern televisions will upscale the SD picture to something that looks just fine, even on a large display. But if it's an older movie I love which underwent remastering or it's a more recent movie which will benefit from the HD image, I spend the $5. Weirdly enough, Vudu will only allow you to convert 100 movies per calendar year. After that, you have to wait until January 1 in order to convert any more... just in case you're flush with cash and have a huge DVD library.

It will take me a few years yet to be able to afford to convert all the titles I want into digital format, but it's sure nice not having loads of DVDs taking up space in my home. It's also handy to have movies I like in digital format that can be watched anywhere. There is a drawback to conversion, however. Most digital movies don't have "iTunes Extras," so those DVDs which come with "extra features" will likely be lost. If that's something important to you, be sure to check what features iTunes has before spending your hard-earned money.

And now, if you'll excuse me, my biological clock is ticking like this... =stomp stomp stomp= so I've got My Cousin Vinny to watch.

   

*The exception being all the Marvel Studios movies. I buy those the minute they go on sale.

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Bullet Sunday 601

Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Dave!Don't let Oscar-mania get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Oscar! I stopped watching the Oscars and other award shows years ago. The movies I like best rarely win anything and, given how little weight awards seem to carry in casting, it seems like pointless endeavor anyway. Just an excuse for Hollywood to congratulate itself in a pricey spectacle that seems to award based on factors outside of actual talent. Suffice to say I want Black Panther to win as many awards as possible (even though it will be passed over for Best Picture by The Favourite or (more likely) yet another white savior tale with Green Book. I am also pulling for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to win for Best Animated Feature. Other than that? =yawn=.

   
• WAKANDA FOREVER! One bit I did see from The Oscars was this hilarious intro of Black Panther by Trevor Noah...

But it gets better. Not soon after the video was posted, I ran across this...

The real translation is 'white people don't know I'm lying' ahahahahahahahahahaha

Xhosa is a fascinating language. And every time I hear it, I think of this video I saw years ago which attempts to explain the sounds...

Things like this makes me love this planet. How exciting is it that there's so much incredible diversity out there waiting to be discovered?

   
• Whiskey! While I did not watch The Oscars, I most certainly watched Whiskey Cavalier which followed The Oscars...

Whiskey Cavalier Poster

I was not disappointed. It's kinda a James-Bond-ish spy show with some humor and a darn good cast. Time will tell if they fall into the trap of having to two lead characters fall in love (which is always when things go terribly, terribly wrong). Hopefully if they do jump that shark, it will happen later rather than sooner, because I'd like to enjoy it for a while longer.

   
• Oh Captain! While I am absolutely dying to see Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, I think I'm even more excited for Captain Marvel to be released next month. Everything about it looks amazing, and the fact that Carol Danvers will play a big part in Endgame is interesting to me. And speaking of Captain Marvel... I really wanted the original one-sheet movie poster that was released, but couldn't find it available for a sane price anywhere. It was Wonder Woman all over again, where I wanted the gorgeous pre-release poster but could only find it second-market for obscene amounts of money. I think they were under printed because "women super-heroes won't sell," which is really a shame. But then I was looking to see if there were any pre-orders available for Spider-Man: Far From Home when I saw that both posters had gotten a second printing! Sweet! Now they're both hanging in my upstairs hallway where they belong...

Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman hanging in my hallway

Such amazing colors in both of them! So happy that they were reprinted at something I could afford.

   
• Curiosity! The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity were incredible feats of engineering that exceeded their projected lifespan or two years by quite a wide margin. Spirit ran for 6 years and traveled nearly 5 miles. Opportunity ran for 14 years and traveled nearly 28 miles. And then there's Curiosity, which landed in August 2012 and is still running. Or so NASA thinks. On its most recent reboot, the poor thing went into an unexpected "safe mode" and engineers had to get that straightened out...

Curiosity Mars Rover

Curiosity Mars Rover

Personally? I think it was a moment of silence to honor the end of Opportunity's mission, which NASA called on February 12th after it had gone silent since June 10th last year. Great job, buddy. Hopefully humans will get to visit you one day.

   
• Pika! I've never been into Pokémon that much (despite enjoying Pokémon Let's Go on the Switch), but I gotta say... I'm looking forward to Detective Pikachu on May 10th...

Probably because they gave him Ryan Reynold's voice and rendered all the Pokémon so brilliantly. One more interesting-looking movies in a string of interesting-looking movies for 2019. With some exceptions, of course...

Will Smith as Genie in the live-action Disney's Aladdin movie

Absolutely no idea how Disney's Aladdin is going to pan out. By and large I haven't been enjoying the live-action remakes that much, but this one looks like the diciest translation yet.

   
And the award for best bullets goes to...

   

Bullet Sunday 602

Posted on Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

Dave!The King of Pop may be gone, but he's not forgotten... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• WAH! WAAAAH! WAAAAAAAAHH! WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! Walmart has released a new online ad series called "Love is in the Aisle" which is a dating show that takes place in their stores. The second episode features two guys, so naturally hate organizations (like The American Family Association) are losing their fucking minds...

Dating is in the Aisle

Which is kinda pathetic and sad, but it's not like you can expect anything less from a bunch of homophobic bigots who hide behind their warped ideal of "family" while persecuting actual families who happen to have two moms or two dads. Looks like these assholes are running out of places to shop.

   
• Porn and Candy. The new HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland, has finally aired. It details allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, and a $100 million lawsuit by his estate has already been unleashed...

Michael Jackson photo by Dave Hogan and Getty Images
Photo by Dave Hogan and Getty Images

As you can imagine, it's incredibly fucked up. What's surprising to me is in the way it's fucked up. The sexual abuse was horrific, yes, but the mental abuse was magnitudes worse. One minute you're made the center of Michael Jackson's life and promised the world... the next you've been replaced with another young boy and made to wonder what you did wrong to deserve that. I'm not a huge Michael Jackson fan, but there are songs of his I like. Until this documentary, I was able to separate the art from the man. But now? There's just no way. I believe his victims. It's entirely too likely that Michael Jackson was a total piece of shit and I'm glad he's not around to abuse children any more.

   
• Sparkly! "Will she spit or poop?" — A question that always makes date night interesting...

And to think... I had to make do with G.I. Joe when I was a kid.

   
• Worthy! And lo did Steven Spielberg descend from his throne in Hollywood to decree that films from online studios like Netflix should be exempt from Oscar consideration. Apparently he feels that only films which have a full theatrical run (as opposed to a limited run just to qualify for awards) should be classified as "real films." Or something like that. You know... real films... like Hook or Joe vs. The Volcano.

Ummm... yeah... no.

I love a movie theaters better than most. I love the cinema. I love viewing films where the entire experience, from the size of the screen to the sounds you hear, are all optimized for the best enjoyment of a movie and the way the filmmakers wanted it to be seen. But how often does that happen? Now-a-days, you've got people texting and talking on their mobile phones... people eating and making noise... people letting their kids run wild... people being overall assholes who don't care that they are ruining the movie for everybody else. And that doesn't even begin to cover the reality that many movies could never be made or even get distribution within the major Hollywood movie system. Unlike Steven Spielberg, they are locked out and wouldn't get to tell their stories if not for alternative studios like Netflix. Movies that deserve recognition if they're worthy of recognition.

So... Spielberg can just take a damn seat and shut the entire fuck up. I'd argue that my home theater "experience" is far better than dealing with the constant distractions from assholes at the theater. AND I don't have to pay $20 for a popcorn and a Coke. AND I get to see movies that Hollywood would never touch in a million years. God Save Netflix.

   
• Flerf! And speaking of Netflix, they've got a documentary on the "flat earth" movement called Behind the Curve. It's mostly ridiculous, but a part of it seems to be advocating for... tolerance? BWAH HA HA HA HAAA! Yeah, right. I am not going to "respect the opinion" of dumbass flat earthers. I have zero problem mocking idiots who deny what can be observed with their own eyes and goes against fundamental scientific truths and irrefutable evidence. Every hilarious "explanation" that flat earthers come up with for things like eclipses, how GPS works, Antarctica, and the curvature of the earth, are so fucking stupid that I can't even fathom how anybody could possibly buy into it. Unless they're fucking idiots as well. These tin foil hat wearing morons aren't even worth debunking... so this documentary doesn't even try. They just present mentally deficient people like Mark Sargent and Nathan Thompson in their LITERAL bubble-reality worldview. It's all more infuriating than fascinating or enlightening. But they do have an occasional moment where they drop actual knowledge (including a hysterical bit at the end), so I guess that's something.

   
Until next week, stay vigilant, young crusader...

   

Aquaman: The Movie

Posted on Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Dave!I missed Aquaman in the theater. I had wanted to see it but life kept getting in the way and, to be honest, it was not a priority for me. Despite a home run with Wonder Woman, DC has a horrendous track record with their new "universe" of films, and I just don't give a shit. Especially not enough to have to sit with a bunch of rude assholes at the local cineplex. If ever there was a movie studio screaming "wait-for-video," it's DC.

But now that Aquaman is on iTunes, I plunked down my $20 to take a look. Not as good as it could have been... much better than what I was expecting. I don't plan on spoiling anything major here... but, if you haven't seen it yet (and are planning on doing so), you might want to wait before reading.

There was some stuff I liked...

  • This was essentially a super-hero mash-up of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. Which sounds awful, but it mostly worked.
  • Jason Momoa does not disappoint. His frat-bro demeanor may be a bizarre character choice, but it does make him different amongst the crowded field of super-heroes and that's a good thing.
  • We finally get to see Aquaman in a costume that respects the source material...

Aquaman Movie Poster

  • Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, and Willem DaFoe were perfectly cast. And the fact that they made Heard's take on Mera a hero instead of damsel in distress was a pleasant surprise...

Mera Aquaman Movie Poster

Atlanna Aquaman Movie Poster

Vulko Movie Poster

  • The underwater effects are pretty great.
  • The movie's visual design is mostly excellent.
  • The sound design is amazing.
  • The soundtrack is fantastic.
  • The chase through Sicily is one of my favorite action sequences in a super-hero movie, which is weird given that this movie centers around an underwater world.
  • The final underwater battle is spectacular. I wish I had seen it in IMAX.
  • In stark contrast to the steaming pile of shit that Zack Snyder brought to Batman vs. Superman and Justice League, this movie is actually fun.

And the stuff I didn't...

  • As much as I loathed Justice League, it seems moronic that they completely ignored what happened in that movie. Aquaman is supposed to be a part of a bigger universe but failed, utterly, to remember that.
  • In the comic books, Mera is an alien from another dimension... which explains her powers. In the cinematic version her powers are basically unexplained?
  • While I did like the visual design, they made Atlantis into underwater Asgard (complete with Odin and the Rainbow Bridge) which was lame...

Atlantis in Aquaman

  • Black Manta, one of the coolest villains in comics, was kinda wasted. They essentially made him DC's answer to Iron Man (where does his tech training come from though?), then disposed of him... hopefully to return, as teased in the end-credits...

Black Manta Movie Poster

  • I like Patrick Wilson well enough, but didn't feel he brought much to the role of Orm. This is probably more the fault of the dialogue he was given than his talent as an actor. And then there's his metal Ocean Master mask which distorts to show his emotions. It looked really tacky and stupid, which is why I'm glad he wasn't in it very often...

Orm Ocean Master Movie Poster

  • The attempted slapsticky comic beats are juvenile and stupid. The octopus playing drums. The goat on the plane. Holy shit, why do this absurd bullshit when your movie doesn't need it?

In the end, Aquaman wasn't a bad effort. Far from it, there was actually a lot to enjoy here. Partly because of the imagination at work in bringing Atlantis alive... but mostly because director James Wan went out of his way to run as far away from Justice League as he could. The problem with DC movies being that he had to do so in the first place. Still, they've already announced a sequel to be released in 2022, so maybe the best Aquaman movie is yet to come? Time will tell.

   
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...

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Captain Marvel: The Movie

Posted on Friday, March 8th, 2019

Dave!Happy International Women's Day! It seems only fitting that I saw Captain Marvel, the first movie by Marvel Studios to headline a woman, today.

When you are a huge fan of comic book movies... but also well-versed in the original comics which inspired them... you have a fine line to walk. On one hand, you have to understand that what works in comic books doesn't always translate to screen, so there will be changes made. On the other hand, movies that stray too far from the source material are throwing away what made them popular enough to be made into movies in the first place.

DC Comics' attempt at a "shared universe" of stories has been a complete disaster. They not only take a steaming shit on their source material*, they can't even be consistent between films. Batman vs. Superman, Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman don't match up, even though the entire point of rebooting everything was to make it so they do match up.

Marvel, on the other hand, has made painstaking strides to ensure that their entire "Marvel Cinematic Universe" is consistent and everything syncs together. There have been minor missteps but, for the most part, they have succeeded beyond all reason. On top of that, they have also been exceedingly respectful of their source material. Changes are made, of course, but they are changes that (mostly) make sense.

And then along comes Captain Marvel...

Captain Marvel Poster

The comic book character has a long... very long... history. "She" was originally a "he" and explaining how we got from point A to point B would take pages to explain. Suffice to say that the original (male) was a Kree warrior. An explosion of an alien device merged his DNA with that of Carol Danvers, turning her into a super-powered Human/Kree hybrid known as "Ms. Marvel." Over the years she became "Binary" followed by "Warbird." Eventually she came back around to "Ms. Marvel" before landing on "Captain Marvel" in her character-defining series of the same name by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Last year Marvel completely changed her origin. Instead of being a human that became a Kree hybrid in an explosion, it turns out her mother was a Kree all along, and the explosion just "awakened" her powers.

Personally, I thought that the change was a load of shit that was entirely unnecessary. But apparently Marvel wanted a strong, independent female character whose powers weren't derived from a man, so this is what we got.

The movie is something entirely different. Ordinarily this would be a major sticking point for me... but, in this case, I understand why they did what they did. Unlike the Marvel Comic Book Universe which is going on 60 years now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just 10 years old. Adding a new character with such an extensive and complicated history like Captain Marvel and having them work within such a truncated timeline is nigh impossible unless liberties are taken. How do you have her get her powers from the original Captain Marvel without having to explain who he is? Well, within a 2-hour movie, you don't.

That being said, I think Marvel did the best they could to find a way to get Captain Marvel into their Cinematic Universe while still respecting the source material as best they could. Sure, there's a part of me that believes better choices could have been made, but only if the MCU was standing still. Which it's not. The current Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame storylines are massive undertakings which are the culmination of a decade's worth of films. Even by having Captain Marvel take place in the 1990's, there's only so much you can do.

And what Kevin Feige and Marvel did do is make a pretty darn good movie.

The story is mostly entertaining and cohesive within the bigger MCU picture. The characters are well-crafted, the dialogue is well-written (even if the humor doesn't always land), and Samuel L. Jackson turns in a computer-youthified performance that's as great as you would expect. Brie Larsen was terrific as Carol Danvers, though parts of her character felt oddly detached and lacking in subtlety. I'm hoping that this was an attempt to make her seem more "alien-like," but we won't know that until her future appearances (such as Avengers: Endgame, coming next month!).

If I have a criticism of the film, it would be that the action is not as engaging as it should have been. If you're going spend a good chunk of the movie playing detective so you can uncover Carol's past, you'd better darn well deliver when the fighting starts. Except the battles weren't quite "there"... sometimes bordering on tedious. I wish a little more thought had been put into providing more memorable action beats.

If you want to read my spoiler-filled comments on the film, you can do that in an extended entry.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Bullet Sunday 603

Posted on Sunday, March 10th, 2019

Dave!Stop worrying your pretty little head over whether Spring is here or not here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Free! As I've mentioned more than a few times on this blog, I'm a huge fan of Alex Honnold. He's a world-famous free solo rock climber who recently rocketed into the limelight because of the Oscar-winning documentary film Free Solo (sadly, I didn't get to see it in IMAX like I wanted to, and ended up renting it). I first heard of the guy in 2007 or 2008 after he free soloed Yosemite. At first I thought he was a lunatic with a death-wish, but after reading numerous interviews over the years, I found him to be one of the most philosophical, funny, genuine people on the face of the planet. And the most talented athlete on earth...

If you haven't seen free Solo yet, it's absolutely worth your time. It's an amazing film that changed my perception of Honnold yet again. But if you want to see Alex being the Alex that I became obsessed over the past decade, here he is (watch to the end, because it gets better as it goes on)...

It used to be that every year on Christmas as a part of my "End-of-Year Checklist" I would Google Alex to see if he was still alive. Now that he's so incredibly famous, I don't have to. If something were to happen to him I'm sure the entire world would know.

   
• Zero Stars! When I had to start eliminating carbs, the transition from "regular" to "sugar-free" sodas was a tough leap to make. What made it easier was Coke Zero, which is far and away my favorite carb-free pop (followed by Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet A&W Root Beer, and Sunkist Orange). One of my favorite sodas, Stewart's Orange Cream, has no diet equivalent... which is why I was thrilled to see "Coke Zero Orange Vanilla" at my local Safeway...

Coke Orange Vanilla

Holy shit what a horrendous load of toxic sludge! It tastes nothing like an orange cream soda, but instead tastes like an extremely artificial vanilla cola with a weird orange aftertaste. Really gross, which is why I am mad I bought an entire 12-pack. Looks like I need to investigate adding a hint of vanilla to Sunkist Diet Orange Soda to see if I can get what I'm looking for.

   
• Life! Ricky Gervais is one of the most brilliant minds in entertainment, and I'm always looking forward to what he's doing next. Turns out it's the Netflix series After Life, and it's one of my favorite things he's done thus far...

The show has a rocky start because his character is pretty awful. But the 6-episode series is a journey that ends in a very different place, and it's a worthwhile trip to take. With all the horrors I've been facing these past couple years, it's nice to run across something that is saying exactly what I need to hear. Highly recommended.

   
• Stick! One of my favorite kitchen brands is OXO Good Grips. I ended up replacing almost all my bakeware with their stuff and was happy with that... at first. Then I found out that my "non-stick pizza pan" can't even cook biscuits without them sticking like cement...

Non Stick Sticking on OXO Good Grips

Even worse? The bread pans and jelly roll pan are rusting under the folded edges. And so... I guess OXO Good Grips is no longer my favorite kitchen brand. Really sad that I wasted my money on this garbage.

   
• Billions and Billions! Wealth inequality is something that I don't really think about because there's nothing I can do about it. Obscenely wealthy people own this country and get to decide how things are going to be. The fact that what they decide inevitably benefits only them (and their pocketbook) regardless of how it screws the rest of us... or the environment... or whatever else is in their way, is just our sad reality. Which is why shit like this is so unsurprising...

Thinking that these horrible people will ever have to pay for the lives they've destroyed is laughable.

   
And, on that note, I guess we're out of bullets...

   

Bullet Sunday 604

Posted on Monday, March 18th, 2019

Dave!It's hard to believe that March is already half-over, but don't let the march of time discourage you... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Queer Happy! Since I have (temporarily) stepped away from social media, I've been pretty much out of the loop. But I did have a news story pop up which mentioned that Queer Eye Season Three had just dropped on Netflix...

Queer Eye Season Three Promo Image

Sweet! I absolutely love Queer Eye because it packs one of the most emotional gut-punches you'll find on television. Some of those the Fab Five help out are genuinely good people who just need a little break to be happy, and the guys always manage to come through. And then I read the comments on the story. You think I'd know better. Because the amount of hatred that people have for this show is downright unfathomable and I just don't get it. Seriously... who gives a crap how other people live their lives when it does not affect you? Do these haters honestly think that there is a finite amount of happiness in the world and if other people find happiness in ways they don't approve of it means there's less happiness for them? Gay people aren't allowed to be who they are and be happy because if they are, there's no way anti-gay bigots can be happy? What pathetic, sad, miserable assholes these people are. But I don't care. This is one of the best seasons yet, and I watched all eight episodes back-to-back. I can't wait for Season Four.

   
• Top Gunn! Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn made some horrific and terrible jokes about rape and pedophilia when we was young and stupid. He subsequently offered heartfelt apologies numerous times, promised to do better, and moved on to become an incredibly talented writer and director. But Disney/Marvel fired him anyway, despite him providing them two incredible hit movies....

Guardian of the Galaxy Promo Image

This was a rash and idiotic knee-jerk reaction that made me (and plenty of others) pretty mad. How many of us haven't made stupid mistakes when we were younger? The guy was wasn't an actual rapist and pedophile... he just made hurtful and overall moronic "jokes" about the subjects which weren't at all funny (unlike James Carr, who may be completely tasteless and inappropriate, but is really funny about it). His apologies were sincere. He grew up. And now Disney/Marvel finally seemed to realize how fucking stupid they were... probably not because it was wrong to fire him over his bad judgement... but because they couldn't find another writer/director to replace him. Money being more important than manufactured outrage, Gunn was rehired to direct his already-completed script for Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume Three!

Guardian of the Galaxy Promo Image

So happy about this. I don't believe in second chances for everyone, but James Gunn has earned the support he's gotten to be reinstated.

   
• BURN! I was raised Catholic. I still have family and friends who are in the Catholic Church. I say this to qualify that I would never recklessly disparage The Church and its followers. Except... The Catholic Church has a history of horrifically problematic issues that have not been adequately dealt with. Big on that list is the seemingly never-ending sexual abuse of children by their pastors and officials. Abuse that The Church has been outright denying or only half-heartedly acknowledging. It is next-level fucked up, and I am outraged that it's still happening and victims are still being ignored or shoved aside. Which is why the Diocese of Brooklyn can seriously go fuck themselves for demanding an apology for this segment on Saturday Night Live...

Pete Davidson has said some truly stupid stuff... and it's not always funny. In this case what he's saying is not only funny, it's also 100% true. Until the Catholic Church reforms... and at this point it can't really be anything except a total reform because we're way, way past second chances for them to do the right thing... I'm done. See how that works?

   
• Aladdin! For me, the jury was very much out on Disney's upcoming live-action version of Aladdin. The original animated movie with Robin Williams is one of my favorites, and it just seemed... bizarre... that Disney would even attempt to replace him with Will Smith. But now that I've seen an actual trailer, I'm much more hopeful...

Will it take the place of the original masterpiece? Almost certainly not? Can it be an entertaining distraction in its own right? Sure! Guess we'll find out in May.

   
• Honey Honey! I try to use honey instead of sugar whenever I can. Honey is the only thing I add to my tea, and I'd rather drink it unsweetened if honey isn't available. I do have packets of "Sugar in the Raw" and artificial sweetener for my guests, if they want it, but there's always honey at my home. Over the years I've read some truly misguided comments about honey and people who want me to switch to agave nectar. Finally I've found a couple of people on Tumblr who have summed up why I'll never switch to agave...

Vegans of tumblr, listen up. Harvesting agave in the quantities required so you don't have to eat honey is killing Mexican long-nosed bats. They feed off the nectar and pollinate the plants. They need the agave. You want to help the environment? Go back to honey. Your liver and thyroid will thank you, as well. Agave is 90% fructose, which can cause a host of issues. Bye.
   
VampireGirl2345 via Tumblr

Beekeeper here! Just wanted to say that the fact that vegans won’t eat honey is very silly. Harvesting honey does not hurt bees. The invention of modern moveable-frame hives means we can remove a selected frame, extract the honey and return it without killing a single bee.
   
If we destroyed the colony to harvest honey there would be no bees for next year, and beekeepers are incredibly careful to keep their bees healthy and thriving. We take *excess* honey that they don’t need, and it stops the hive from becoming honey-bound, meaning that there’s so much honey the Queen has nowhere to lay eggs. And if the winter is harsher than expected and the remaining honey store runs low, we feed the bees plenty to make sure they survive. We also make sure that pests are controlled, bees are treated for disease, and the hive is weatherproof and in good repair, all things that wild bees struggle with.
   
Keeping bees in properly managed hives where they don’t starve or die from preventable disease is much better for them than being left to fend for themselves, and they’re far too important to be left alone. All the fruits and vegetables that vegans *do* eat couldn’t exist without bees, and the hives which pollinate those crops also produce excess honey which the beekeepers can sell to help keep themselves and their hives going.
   
TLDR: BUY THE HONEY, HELP THE BEES.
   
Vertiga via Tumblr

Bats are some of the most beneficial creatures on earth. Trading in a non-existent problem for a very real problem which threatens their survival is not helping.

   
• Coaster! I'm a big fan of interesting roller coasters and have been on many, many of them. My current favorite is "The Incredible Hulk Coaster" at Universal Studios Orlando. It's not as well-themed as Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland... or as iconic as The Cyclone at Coney Island... or as scary as Wicked Twister at Cedar Point... but The Incredible Hulk is really fun to ride. But for me right now? The coaster I most want to ride is the brand new "Yukon Striker" coming to Canada's Wonderland this Spring...

Yukon Striker Roller Coaster Canada's Wonderland

Yukon Striker will be the fastest, longest, tallest dive roller coaster in the world. It goes up to 80mph, is 3,625 feet long, has four inversions, and lasts three minutes, 25 seconds. And it looks like loads of fun...

Hopefully I can get to Toronto one of these days to ride it!

   
And that's all he wrote for writing bullets this week! See you next Sunday!

   

I Really Don’t Care, Do U?

Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Dave!I am not a huge horror movie fan, but I do like a well-crafted story... in any genre.

For this reason I was exited to see that Jordan Peele has a new horror movie out called Us. I loved Get Out, and the reviews for Us are phenomenal. And yet... I loathe going to the theater so much that I was debating whether or not I was going to buy a ticket or wait for home video...

Us Movie Poster

To help with my decision, I emailed a document to a friend who was going to see the movie last night. In it I wrote what I thought the "twist ending" was going to be. After seeing a couple commercials and clips on talk shows, it seemed pretty obvious to me what was going on.

This morning my friend opened the document and texted me that I was 100% correct with my guess. But he also said that the movie was so great that I really should go see it in the theater anyway.

So I don't know.

I'll probably wait for home video. Having to share the theater with a bunch of rude people makes me long to be watching at home.

And speaking of watching at home...

Apparently Viacom is in a fight with my television provider, DirecTV. While watching The Daily Show and The Other Two on Comedy Central and RuPul's Drag Race on Logo, there's a black box on the screen warning you that AT&T (owners of DirecTV) are going to drop the channel...

Us Movie Poster

At first the box was stationary on the left-hand side. But then AT&T started putting a black box on top of it. So now Viacom is making the box jump around the screen so AT&T has to keep moving their box. Eventually AT&T gave up. It's such bullshit and trying to watch a show where a box is bouncing all over the place is headache-inducing.

Well, whatever.

All I can say is that if DirecTV drops Comedy Central, one of the few channels I watch with any regularity, I will be dropping DirecTV. As I mentioned previously, thanks to streaming services and such, I don't need DirecTV much anymore anyway.

The monopolies of cable companies and satellite companies are over and I really don't care. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of assholes. They've been forcing bundled channels down our throats that we don't want for decades and karma is a bitch.

   

Bullet Sunday 607

Posted on Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Dave! Time to celebrate because I think I'm finally over my cold/flu/whatever, but also... because an all new Special Movie Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

Putting aside Marvel movies I'm already dying to see (Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home), a new Star Wars movie I couldn't care less about (the still unnamed Star Wars: Episode IX), a new Hellboy that doesn't look to be bringing anything new to the table, a new Kingsman that may or may not be happening, and a couple of Disney live-action revamps that don't have me very excited (Aladdin and The Lion King)... here's the most interesting things headed to the cinemaplex in 2019...

   
• John Wick 3! The Keanu Reeves contract killer movies that have no reason to be as awesome as they are...

It seems impossible that they could write their way out of the corner they painted at the end of 2, but here we are. And we're getting Halle Berry and Anjelica Houston as well? Sign me up!

   
• Brightburn! The Superman legend rewritten as a horror flick. Alrighty...

It's a fantastic concept, and it looks like they might have nailed the implementation. Sign me up!

   
• Dark Phoenix! The shitty Bryan Singer X-Men movies were redeemed a bit when Matthew Vaughn took over for First Class, took a nosedive when Singer came back for Days of Future Past, and now look to be on the up-swing again with Simon Kinberg taking over...

My guess is that I will wait for the movie to come out on home-video. Perhaps if the reviews are amazing I might be tempted to drag myself to the theater. Only problem is that this film is going to make little difference no matter how good or bad it is. The absurd convoluted timeline antics of Singer's X-Men is going to be flushed down the toilet now that Marvel Studios will be able to reboot everything into something worth a shit.

   
• Men in Black International! This franchise has more downs than ups for me, but it ultimately finds a way of being entertaining enough even when it's at its worst. Now we're getting a soft-reboot that could be the best way forward...

Chris Hemsworth is hilarious when the material is right. And while Art Marcum and Matt Holloway did write the original Iron Man... they also wrote Transformers: The Last Knight which was a pile of shit... and so... this will be another "wait and see" films for me. If the reviews have them knocking it out of the park, fine. Otherwise? Home video for sure.

   
• Toy Story 4! If there's one franchise that hasn't had a misstep, this is it. And while the plot seems as though it will be a retread of what we've seen before, it also looks mesmerizing and charming in equal measure...

Unless people hate it, I'll probably sneak into a late theater showing to take a look. Pixar films always look beautiful on the big screen of a really good theater.

   
• Once Upon a Time in Hollywood! Hey, its Quentin Tarantino. He hasn't steered me wrong yet...

I truly hope that Tarantino doesn't follow through on his threat of retiring after his tenth movie, because this will be his ninth. I will absolutely be seeing this one in theaters.

   
• Shaft! Samuel L. Jackson is back as Shaft? Isn't that a kick in the pants...

What makes it too good to be true though? RICHARD ROUNDTREE is back too?!? With maybe a bit more to do this time around.

   
And now for a nap...

   

Secondhand Allergies

Posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Dave!After spending a week being sick I was ready to start feeling myself again. Alas, it was not to be, because now Spring allergies have hit me like a truck. There goes the next two months of my life. It's all sinus pressure, post-nasal drip, and coughing from here on out.

When I was younger I had allergy shots to keep me from being a complete mess. Eventually I outgrew my allergies and the shots stopped. Then, without warning, my mid-forties arrived and Spring allergies along with them. I've tried dozens of drugs... both prescription and over-the-counter... and have found only two things that help: 1) Flonase which, unfortunately, causes nose bleeds... and 2) Benadryl which, unfortunately, causes me to become useless and fall asleep. Obviously I can't go to work while falling into a coma, so I have to suffer through every day and drug myself to oblivion every night.

Such is my life.

As I mentioned a while back, every year on January 1st I convert the maximum-allowable 100 of my DVDs to digital. Sure it's $200 down the drain, but I then have access to all those movies anywhere I have internet. So much more convenient than having to dig through hundreds of DVDs to find something to watch.

Dozens of these movies I haven't seen in decades, and it's been well-worth the $2 conversion fee. I just finished Secondhand Lions which is a fantastic film I didn't even remember existed. Surprising to me that it wasn't a much bigger hit than it ended up being...

Secondhand Lions Movie Poster

A few things...

  1. Haley Joel Osment deserved a lot more films as he grew up. He's spectacular in Secondhand Lions, and it's a shame that he wasn't getting more work after he was no longer that adorable "Sixth Sense" kid.
  2. Kyra Sedgwick can play literally anything. Her role in this film was unlike anything else I've seen her do... and yet it was still her.
  3. Casting Robert Duvall and Michael Caine as two cantankerous old farts with a rather exotic and interesting past was total genius.
  4. Christian Kane and Kevin Haberer could not possibly have been more convincing action stars for their roles. They managed to be younger versions of Robert Duvall and Michael Caine without being enslaved to the idea of becoming Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.
  5. Few movies which switch between the past and the present do so in a way that "clicks" this beautifully. There are subtle echos going both ways that are wonderfully crafted.
  6. Whomever trained the dogs used in this movie should have been given some kind of award. The canines have small, but critical roles to the story.
  7. It is fucking criminal that Secondhand Lions only has a 59% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The bad reviews are completely vexing to me. I read the criticisms and can't help but wonder if they watched a different film than I did.
  8. "What Every Boy Needs to Know About Being a Man" is one of the most inspired speeches in cinema (even though you only get to hear a part of it). Not because of what it says, but because of how they wrap it up with a disclaimer that it may not be true but you should believe in it anyway.
  9. If you don't feel for what Walter is going through (thanks to Haley Joel Osment's inspired performance) you don't have a heart. I'll say it again... it is a tragedy that Osment didn't get put into more movies when he was at this age. He's a sublime actor, and could have brought everything to "coming of age" movies of the day.
  10. I'd give just about anything to see all the comic strips and artwork that Berkeley Breathed created for the movie. Some of it pops up online, but I'm sure there's pages and pages of stuff that we've never seen.

Needless to say, if you like movies and haven't seen this one... you should probably get on that.

   

The Rise of The Return of The Revenge

Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2019

Dave!And so... we have an official title for the final film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

By and large, I have not been a fan of any of the Star Wars movies after The Empire Strikes Back. I positively loathed Return of the Jedi, and things didn't get too much better from there. The notable exception being Rogue One, which I actually enjoyed quite a lot. My ranking of the films is something like this...

Star Wars Movies Ranking

So when it comes to Episode IX, I have no idea where it might land on my list. I never bothered to see Episode VIII in the theater (preferring to wait until home video), but maybe the last one will drag me back? Guess it will depend on the reviews. One thing for sure, there's not a lot to go on from the trailer...

   
Lando is in there, which is nice. And is that... Emperor Palpatine laughing at the end?!? Interesting!

Guess we'll see if it's worth a crap come December.

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Bullet Sunday 608

Posted on Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Dave!Time to bend the knee... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Thrones! The much-anticipated premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones has finally come. Since it was just an hour of set-up for the five episodes that follow, it was a bit boring... but did have some interesting moments...

Game of Thrones Ice Dragon

One would hope that they managed to find an ending that doesn't suck... but I've seen finales fail more often than win, so I'm not counting on it. So long as it's a fun ride, I suppose I'll be happy enough. But I really want them to knock it out of the park.

   
• The Hawk! And so Disney has announced that Jeremy Renner has been signed to a new series for their forthcoming streaming network. I have been begging for a Hawkeye series based on the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book series for years. It's hands-down one of the best series I've ever read...

Hawkeye by David Aja

No idea if the Disney+ series would go in that directions, but... hot damn. Looks like Disney+ is going to be absolutely killing it with amazing content.

   
• Only in America! A politician from Texas is so pro-life that he wants the death penalty for anybody involved with getting an abortion. You cannot make this shit up. This is after his tireless crusade to "protect the sanctity of marriage" by opposing marriage equality. He's been married five times. You cannot make this shit up. At some point you'd think that people would get tired of this kind of hypocritical bullshit... but here we are.

   
• Aurebesh Coke! Apparently Coca-Cola is creating special packaging for Disneyland and Walt Disney World's upcoming "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" lands...

Cool. Except... no Coke Zero? I cannot fathom why people continue to drink shitty Diet Coke when Coke Zero exists.

   
• Evil! There are few things I'm more passionate about than Net Neutrality. As expected, The Trump Administration killed it. As expected, the Democrats created a bill to restore it. I fully expect that it will be vetoed by the president. This is reprehensible and evil. The reasons given for killing Net Neutrality are all fucking bullshit. And the reasons for restoring it are legion. Which is why it's not surprising that President Trump hates it. Anything which levels the playing field for everybody works against dumbasses who have to rely on their daddy's money to get ahead in life.

   
• Kerning Fail! Few things freak me out like bad typography...

Kerning Failure

You'd think that the people in charge of using type would know how. Doesn't happen as often as you'd hope though.

   
And... that's enough bullets on your Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 609

Posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Dave!The Easter Bunny may be bringing you chocolate and boiled eggs, but something better is in store... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Cathedral. It has been exceedingly difficult to gather my thoughts on the fire at Notre Dame. I've visited it all three times I've been to Paris, and loved it more with each trip. Such architectural wonders are a testament to mankind's accomplishments, and it is filled with sublime artistic treasures...

Notre Dame of Paris

Notre Dame of Paris

Notre Dame of Paris

Notre Dame of Paris

I am relieved that so much of it survived. I am thankful that nobody perished in the flames. I am happy that it can be rebuilt. But I am more than a little disheartened that three Black churches being burned in Louisiana barely made the news while Notre Dame could not be escaped. Yes, three small churches don't have the renown nor the grandeur of one of the most well-known landmarks on the planet, but still... it supports the false narrative that "racism is over" when it's happening around us every day. When something is invisible, people don't care about it. I'm not saying that every incident of racism has to be reported (you'd need dozens 24-hour news channel just to keep up with it all) but three churches being targeted and burned because its parishioners are Black is newsworthy, and people who think "racism is over" need to be reminded that it's not.

   
• Turkish Delight! While I've been spending time taking care of Jake, I've been running through foreign films on Amazon Prime Streaming. One of the best I've found kinda surprised me with not just how good it was... but with the way it had a bit of an interesting twist to it. Originally titled Kardeşim Benim in its original Turkish, it's listed on Amazon as My Brother (be sure Close Captioning (the CC button) is on)...

If you're not an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can rent it for $3 or purchase it for $6 on iTunes. There's a sequel that was made a couple years ago that looks every bit as good, but I haven't seen it available here in the USA...

Hopefully it gets English subtitles and shows up here soon.

   
• Dickey! This song is lyrically embarrassing, but the animation and cast of guest voices are pretty great...

Interesting that Lil' Dickey was the one to spearhead something like this, but here we are.

   
• Oh Boy! I was a bit late to the Garth Ennis comic book The Boys, but found it an interesting and often enjoyable series. Yes, it was filled with gratuitous... well... everything... but in a very good way. When I heard that Amazon Prime was adapting it, I was worried the show would end up being a pale shadow of the source material. Turns out I worried for nothing...

Savage. Needless to say, I'll be tuning into that.

   
• Trash! Senator Maureen Walsh is fucking garbage from the heart of Redneckistan. She is the one who made an impassioned plea advocating for marriage equality in Washington State because she has a lesbian daughter. We quickly found out that she only cares about marginalized people when they affect her directly, because she subsequently went after trans persons by saying that trans kids invite getting bullied because they intentionally stand out. Now she says that nurses don't deserve workplace protections with guarantees of breaks and time for lunch because they spend most of their time playing cards. Uh huh. Ask any nurse how much time they get to play cards while busting their assess to save lives. Exhaustion breeds mistakes. Do we really want nurses pushed to exhaustion given the job responsibilities they have? Of course not. Which makes Maureen Walsh a fucking dumbass on top of being an asshole. There are few people I regret believing in more than this epic fail...

Maureen Walsh is Fucking Garbage

UPDATE: Yes, I do know the context of what she was talking about, it was still way out of line. You can prove your point about critical care hospitals in rural communities without degrading nurses like this. For me the greater context is that Walsh has consistently voted against things like paid sick leave, guaranteed minimum wage, and other laws protecting workers. So, despite her apology or any context, what other conclusion are people supposed to make when she says stuff like this?

   
• Mueller? Mueller? I have a lot I could say. Maybe I will one day. In the meanwhile...

Pretty much this link right here.

Oh. And this tweet right here...

I laugh my ass off at the idea that the Mueller Report in any way exonerates the president. On the contrary, it positively reeks with all the things that make him an affront to the office he holds and the country which allows him to hold it.

UPDATE: Here we go...

   
And 'tis time at last for the bullets to be done this fine Easter Sunday.

   

At the End of the Game

Posted on Friday, April 26th, 2019

Dave!Welp.

Avengers: Endgame was a movie alright!

My expectations were phenomenally high for this film. Lucky for me, it was a pretty phenomenal movie and definitely lived up to all the pre-hype that Marvel has been shoveling out over the past several months. I absolutely loved it...

Milwaukee Cordless M18 Random Orbital Sander

Needless to say I can't really talk about the film without spoiling some of the stuff that happens.

YOU DO NOT WANT THAT!

Trust me. If there's one film you do not want spoiled, it's this one. So absolutely do not proceed any further until you have seen Avengers: Endgame!

You've been warned.

Spoilers await in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Rabbits, Discarded and Unloved

Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2019

Dave!This morning I put in three hours working at home before I walked to work, so I was already exhausted by the time I left the house. Apparently I'm better driving while exhausted over walking while exhausted because I kept tripping over stuff. Rocks, roots, raised seams in the sidewalk... getting my exercise in today is a dangerous business.

But then, at the half-way mark, I had a heart-stopping moment that caused me to wake right up.

As I started rounding a corner, I saw a rabbit in the middle of the road...

Bunny in the Road!

This is a very busy corner and, despite distracted driving laws, I regularly see people driving while texting. Driving while putting on makeup. Driving while eating a bowl of cereal. My instinct was to rush into the street and see if I could block traffic until the rabbit had a chance to get wherever it was going. But then I worried he would get scared and run away from me into oncoming traffic. So I decided to walk around it while recording video... because if some texting asshole were to run him over as I was trying to flag them down, I wanted to have footage I could use to turn them into the police.

And then a bus started barreling around the corner and I held my breath because I had no idea what their visibility might be.

But, much to my delight, the bus stopped. Cars coming from the opposite direction stopped. And the bunny ran back to the (relative) safety of the yard from whence he came...

Bunny in the Road!

As I walked along the sidewalk, I scoped out the bushes in the yard to see if I could see him. Sure enough...

Bunny in the Bushes!

I've lived in this town since I was five. I've seen bunnies in the wilds surrounding the town... but I've never seen a rabbit walking around civilization like this. My hope is that this is an anomaly, and he just got lost or something.

I really hope that some asshole didn't buy a rabbit for their kids at Easter then decide it was too much work so they just kicked it to the curb. I read about this happening with bunnies and chicks every year around Eastertime, and have to wonder who the fuck could be that big of an asshole. Probably the same people who want to punish poor people for being poor, which is a reoccurring theme in today's political arena. The prevailing thought seems to be that poor people want to be poor. That poor people are lazy and don't want to work. That poor people live like royalty with their free hi-def televisions and mobile phones. That poor people are to blame for high taxes. That poor people get all the breaks while honest hard-working people get none. That poor people don't deserve healthcare or places to live or food to eat... because they're poor.

Of course these same people tend to be the ones that persecute the shit out of our LGBT communities because of a couple passages in the Bible they think tells them it's okay... while completely ignoring the multitude of passages telling them that ignoring those in poverty is most definitely not okay. So I've given up on trying to apply rational thought to crap like this. But I don't blame myself here. Hypocrisy often defies rational thought.

   
Over the weekend I noted that G.I. Jane (a 1997 film starring Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen) was playing as I cycled through TV channels. I've always liked this film and have never understood the contempt that critics have for it. Demi Moore seemed highly dedicated to the role and did a fine job. Viggo Mortensen's contemptible, yet oddly complex Master Chief is one of the better movie characters I've seen. And Ridley Scott's thoughtful direction, hallmark scene composition, and wonderful cinematography is a beautiful thing to behold...

G.I. Jane Poster!

   
I ended up watching it, of course. Or, to be more accurate, I had it on while I was working. I quickly learned to regret my decision though, because the Ovation TV network is a steaming pile of shit*... but I hadn't seen the film in at least a decade, so I was happy to get to see it again.

One notable thing (for me) about the movie is that it features a poem by one of my favorite poets, D.H. Lawrence. Much like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which features a line from a Lawrence poem along similar lines (Wales Weep Not), it provides a small (yet critical) expansion of the story.

Rumor has it that Viggo Mortensen himself injected it into the film...

This is absolutely remarkable if it's true, because finding out that his speech was a poem called Self-Pity and not just badass rhetoric completely changes everything about the character at the very end of the film in the best possible way...

Self Pity by D.H. Lawrence!

My guess is that rabbits, discarded and unloved, probably feel no self-pity as well.

It's our job as humans to feel pity for them and we are failing miserably.

But not on my walk to work today, thankfully.

   
*What a fucking shitty network Ovation TV is. I swear they air more commercials per hour than any other network I've ever seen... and that's saying something. G.I. Jane has a runtime of 2 hours and 5 minutes. Ovation is taking THREE HOURS to air it. Which means anything you watch on this laughably pathetic network is ONE THIRD COMMERCIALS! And so... Ovation is being deprogrammed from my DirecTV and I'm never watching this bullshit again. It's things like this that make me want to tell cable and satellite television providers to go fuck themselves. FIRST you have to pay a massive amount of money just to GET the channel... then you have to waste your fucking time watching an abundance of ads. Ad-free streaming direct from the source is the wave of the future... like CBS All Access. If I'm going to pay a shit-load of money to watch television, why pay DirecTV to watch ads?

   

Bullet Sunday 612

Posted on Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Dave!Who cares who sits on The Iron Throne... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• No Spoilers! Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion. Game of Thrones was HBO's most popular show of all time. You just know that money was not an issue when it came to wrapping things up. But apparently David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were tired of their show and wanted to move on, so they just hacked together some of the most mundane and lazy storytelling they could muster, crammed it into six episodes, and called it good. You'd think if they were tired and wanted to move on they would hand the show off to somebody who gives a shit, but no. This is what we got. I'll wait a week before posting my thoughts so as not to spoil things for any latecomers, but dang. Lame.

   
• Keanu! I know more than a few people working in Hollywood. Not one of them has ever had anything but nice words to say about Keanu Reeves. He's a kind, generous soul and everybody loves working with him. On top of that he has a self-realized wisdom that makes me happy for his every success...

John Wick: Chapter 3 was pretty kick-ass. Can't wait for Chapter 4.

   
• Represent! When stars like Brie Larson say they are using their celebrity to insist on a more diverse, inclusive group of interviewers, they get attacked by people wanting to keep the status quo of the same voices. I find this absurd. Making room for more is not taking away from who's there now. It's making room for more. And here's the incomparable Halle Berry walking the walk and doing her part...

How can anybody watch this and think anybody is losing here? More people winning doesn't equate to more people are losing, and it's shitty that this attitude continues to be our default. Make room at the table... your dinner party will only get more interesting.

   
• Again. HEADLINE: Trump Tries to Win Over Midwest Farmers with Socialist Promises. Because socialism is bad when it comes to keeping people healthy or fed or housed... but good when it's used as pathetic compensation to keep your base happy due to your complete failure to understand how global trade works in the year 2019.

   
• Hypocrisy in Action! HEADLINE: Anti-abortion Rep. Tim Murphy resigns after report he asked lover to end pregnancy...

Make no mistake... NONE... that wealthy politicians will ALWAYS have access to safe abortions for their mistresses and family. For everybody else? Wire hangers and back alleys, baby. This hypocritical bullshit disgusts me to my core.

   
• Evolution! Ummm...

It's only a matter of time before they go all Plant of the Apes on our asses.

   
And, on that apocalyptic note, see you next Sunday!

   

Gemma in Fashion

Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Dave!I used to watch Project Runway from time to time... not because I'm big into fashion but because I love Tim Gunn. When Gunn and Heidi Klum left after last season in favor of a yet-unknown project for Amazon, I stopped watching. Sure the creativity is fun, but not so much a draw that I want to spend my time watching without Tim.

I'm just not that into fashion.

Which would be clear to you if you've ever seen how I dress myself.

And yet... when it comes to obsessing over a fashion icon, I'm perfectly qualified. And right now the icon I'm obsessing over is Gemma Chan. I've seen her in a few things (including Humans), but it wasn't until her entrance into Crazy Rich Asians that I saw her as the epitome of class and glamor she is...

Gemma Chan in Crazy Rich Asians!

Hands down one of the best entrances in a movie ever.

But thinking that Gemma Chan can't be fashionable outside of the movies would be a mistake. She's stunning all the time everywhere and is always fashionable...

Gemma Chan Fashion!
Image by Getty Images

Gemma Chan Fashion!
Image by Hew Hood for Esquire Singapore

Gemma Chan Fashion!
Image by David M. Benett / Getty Images

Gemma Chan Fashion!
Image by Getty Images

Heck, she even looks amazing blue in her role for Captain Marvel...

Gemma Chan Fashion!

Here's hoping we see a lot more of Ms. Chan before China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems start shooting back-to-back next year.

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Bullet Sunday 614

Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

Dave!The summer heat has arrived, but it's cool here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Mufasa! I'm mostly indifferent to all these Disney live-action remakes, having taken a pass on Dumbo, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, and the rest. The exception being The Jungle Book, which was exceptional. And now there's another I will absolutely be tuning into... The Lion King. I mean, just look at this screen grab...

Simba and Zazu from The Lion King!

The teaser trailer sure looks great...

And, the icing on the cake? Disney wisely got James Earl Jones to reprise the role of Mufasa...

Simba and Zazu from The Lion King!

While nothing could ever replace really good animation for me, really good CGI can also be fun.

   
• Fake! I don't know what's more impressive. Bill Heder's incredible impersonations... or the "Deep Fake" technology that puts their faces over his...

I'm going to go with "both" on this.

   
• Codex! One of the highlights of my visit to Milan, Italy was a visit to Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Library of Ambrose) so I could view pages from the Codex Atlanticus, a collection of works and writings by Leonardo DaVinci. Much to my surprise, they've now put this master work online, which you can look at here. It's pretty spectacular stuff...

Codex Atlanticus Online!

Codex Atlanticus Online!

Codex Atlanticus Online!

All too easy to lose a lot of time exploring.

   
• Cracker! Remember the good old days when you wanted to eat crackers in bed... AND THE FUCKING PACKAGE WOULD ACTUALLY OPEN AT THE SEAMS INSTEAD OF YOU HAVING TO RIP INTO IT LIKE AN ANIMAL?!?

Stupid Saltine Cracker Package Won't Open!

So stupid. How difficult is it to go back to packaging that actually opens, PREMIUM BRAND SALTINE CRACKERS?

   
• Burnt! I guess the money for all those golf trips has to come from somewhere. But cutting wildland firefighting jobs ahead of fire seasons that just continue to get worse and worse is insanity. Guess this country is literally going to go down in flames.

   
• Once More For the People in the Back! I've posted this before. It can't be shared enough...

I keep seeing misinformation as to how tax brackets work over and over and over and over again. I can't believe that there are people who don't get it.

   
And that's a wrap. if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, don't overheat!

   

Bullet Sunday 615

Posted on Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Dave!The time for revolution is now... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Lander! In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the first Apollo Moon Landing, LEGO has released this amazing new set...

LEGO Moon Lander Set!

It's pretty dope...

LEGO Moon Lander Set!

LEGO Moon Lander Set!

LEGO Moon Lander Set!

LEGO Moon Lander Set!

It's also $99, which seems totally worth it, if you've got that kind of money to burn.

   
• Saga! Speaking of LEGO... they've just announced that LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will be released in 2020, combining all nine films in a single game...

I'm guessing that it will be the existing Star Wars games but with new material added at the end to close out the saga. Since it is being released for the Nintendo Switch, I don't mind that at all. I'd love to replay everything from the beginning.

   
• Lucifer! One of my favorite shows, Lucifer was cancelled, then picked up by Netflix. Apparently it did well enough that they are giving the show a fifth season to wrap everything up...

Lucifer Season 5!

Time to celebrate...

Lucifer Season 5!

It's a bit depressing that the show will finally be ending... but at least they have the opportunity to create an actually ending.

   
• Eighty-Four! Director Patty Jenkins released a teaser poster for Wonder Woman 84 this week. One year to go before we know whether this "Not A Sequel But a Reimagining" is going to be worth a crap...

Wonder Woman 84!

I'd like to think it will be, especially since Jenkins is back onboard, but it's really impossible to say. Why they would toss away a continuing story for some kind of soft reboot is puzzling. Unless it's because the DC Cinematic Universe was a pile of shit and they wanted to just bury that once and for all? 360-whatever days until we find out.

   
• Jedi Thrones! Well, this is pretty special...

Given what a massive disappointment the final season of Game of Thrones was, I'm happy to see anything that redeems the franchise, so I'll take what I can get. In the meanwhile, there's this interesting look at how things went South.

   
• Chase Dreams! One of the biggest surprises of the past year's television season was The Other Two, which was hilariously funny in places, despite kinda sliding late in the season...

Still, if you're bored and want something to watch over the summer, this is worth a look. It's pretty foul and definitely not a good fit for mixed company, but you can stream it for a limited time at Comedy Central.

   
• Fan! A bit of a different direction for MUNA here...

Can't wait for their new album in September!

   
Have a great Sunday!

   

Bullet Sunday 617

Posted on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Dave!The weekend's almost over, but there's still reason to celebrate... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• McFlerfin! This is a terrific read on the dumbass flerfer (Flat Earther) movement.

   
• NOKEA! When I was in Seattle last week, I finally took a minute to drop by IKEA and pick up a nightstand for my second guest room so I don't have to steal one from the main guest room whenever somebody needs it. I swear... the quality on IKEA crap worsens with each new purchase. From when I bought these three years ago, they have gotten cheaper and less solid, even though the look is pretty much the same...

Jake in the second guest bedroom

But at least they gave me all the right parts so I could actually put the stupid thing together this time.

   
• Arturo! I thought I'd give Comedy Central's new show Alternatino a try after seeing Arturo Castro (who created and stars in it) on The Daily Show. It's nuts in the best possible way... and so good. And you can watch the entire thing on Youtube!

I have no idea if all the best ideas were put in the first episode and the rest of them are going to be crap, but I certainly hope not! Highly recommended.

   
• King's Man! The prequel to one of my favorite films, Kingsman (and not so-favorite film Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle), was just announced. Titled The King's Man, they released the logo for it. And the kerning (spacing between letters) is total shit. So I fixed it for them...

It's weird to me how these obvious mistakes keep happening. I mean, is it intentional? Surely they have actual designers working on this stuff... don't they? If so, then why don't they know to adjust the kerning when designing a logo? Or know how to structure it for clarity? I dunno. But it drives me more than a little nuts.

   
• Just in time for Pride Month! Diane Gramley (President at American Family Association of Pennsylvania) is such a peach. When she's not regularly equating homosexuality to murder, she's unleashing a whole host of bizarre bullshit. Like saying that the police officers who raided Stonewall in 1969 were trying to rescue a young transgender boy. “He was being used sexually and the police were trying to rescue him.”

Jesus.

She's a non-stop lying hate machine. Which begs the question... exactly what is she trying to distract people from in her own life? My guess is that it's putting pineapple on pizza, which is just one step below murder. But probably bestiality. "Everybody! Don't look at me... look over there! Persecute the gays so I can get fucked by this horse." What else makes sense when somebody is this overtly homophobic? So set your stopwatches. And when Diane Gramley gets caught in a stable being fucked by a horse, remember you heard it here first!

   
• No More Mr. Frosty! Does anybody know if there's a vaccine to inoculate against the bubonic plague and all the other dormant diseases that might be filling our atmosphere as I type this? No? Guess we're all fucked then.

   
And I guess that's a wrap. Good luck with that bubonic plague thing!

   

Bullet Sunday 618

Posted on Sunday, June 30th, 2019

Dave!Grey skies are going to clear up... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Hard Rockin'! Life is weird. I'm flipping through channels and see Suicide Squad is on. Not a fan, but I pause when I see Batman chasing Joker and Harley Quinn because they pass by a Hard Rock Cafe. I'm pretty sure it's Toronto (which has since closed) so I Google to find out what's happened to the location. I find an article on CBC talking about it.

I AM INTERVIEWED IN THE ARTICLE...

HRC Nottingham

I vaguely remember somebody calling me, but I gave them a better name to talk to, and thought that was the end of it. Turns out... nope... I'm in the article and didn't even know it.

   
• Angels! And so they're remaking Charlie's Angels, yet again. First there was the original TV show, then the Drew Barrymore films, then the awful TV show revival, and now yet another series of films...

Meh. Maybe. Seems like the main trio is a little low on star-power for a movie. Interesting that there are three actors for Bosley listed at IMDB: Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, and Elizabeth Banks (who also directs).

   
• Break! Okay... I am really liking this new show called Reef Break. I expected to like it just because Poppy Montgomery is the star of the series, but it's interesting and well-written on top of that...

I wish they would have just set it in Hawaii instead of some fictional island. But with Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. already there, maybe they were worried about Hawaii fatigue?

   
• Grand! I like an occasional dip into trashy television, which is why I was intrigued by Grand Hotel... the new ABC show Executive Produced by Eva Longoria...

The first two episodes are pretty decent. Full of mysteries, secrets, and intrigue. The problem is that shows like this usually blow all their best ideas early, then whither away as crappy new ideas are rotated in. I guess we'll see if this one has legs.

   
• Letterman! Tiffany Haddish, whom I fell in love with after seeing her hilarious role on The Last O.G., is on an episode of David Letterman's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. She is absolutely fascinating. I had no idea the incredible obstacles she had to overcome to get where she is today... and she's done it all with a humor that is luminous...

Remarkable. I love shows like this.

   
• Design! Jony Ive, the industrial designer who helped Steve Jobs reinvigorate Apple with such gems as the iMac, is leaving the company to start his own design group. Apple claims that Ive will still have Apple as a client, so apparently he will still be a guiding force in the design of Apple's wares. And that sucks. Ive is so focused on making everything pretty and thin now-a-days that he has forgotten that computers need to be functional. The keyboard on Ive's latest MacBooks is fucking garbage. My hope was that Apple would bring in somebody who gives a shit that you can actually use their products. I guess that's not going to happen. At least not yet.

In another interesting move at Apple, they just hired ARM's lead CPU architect, Mike Filippo. The rumor is that Apple is switching from Intel to ARM as soon as next year. Given how well it's worked out when Apple started designing their own chips for iPhones, iPads, AirPods and the like, this is probably a good move.

   
• Green! The Oregon "Cap and Invest" bill that Republicans were hiding from this last week is a bit complex. When I was trying to understand what was happening, all the articles I read said that there would be minimal impact on Oregon businesses, because the money collected would go back into helping the same businesses who are having to buy "energy credits" reduce their energy needs or switch to greener options. So it's designed to be a win-win for everybody. There are questions as to whether that would actually be the case. It's not like the corner coffee shop is going to suddenly face insurmountable increases in energy costs... businesses have to be producing 25,000 metric tons of CO2 for it to affect them... but the smaller businesses supplied by larger businesses would have higher costs passed on to them until the energy needs/supply is balanced. That could be a problem (hopefully only in the short-run). It's not the business-destroying Armageddon-painted scenario Republicans are selling (they get loads of money from the energy lobby, remember), but it's also not the cake-walk Democrats are selling. As with most thing, the story is in-between. The only difference being that the fate of all humanity is on the line here. Green energy is the future. The sooner we embrace that, the less painful it will be.

   
And now... time to draw up plans for a week of fun in the sun. See you next Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 619

Posted on Sunday, July 7th, 2019

Dave!It's a glorious day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• IN THE NEWS: Mississippi makes it a jailable offense to call plant-based or cultured-meat patties "burgers."

Seeing as how Mississippi ranks 49th out of the 50 states in education. Perhaps it's understandable that their state government thinks the populace is TOO FUCKING STUPID TO KNOW THAT A VEGGIE BURGER ISN'T MADE FROM A COW. But are they smart enough to know that a veggie dog isn't made from a dog or do hot dogs confuse them too?

   
• Ski! Somehow I missed this excellent short video on Jim Niehues, the guy responsible for painting so many of those ski run posters you see at all the resorts...

Incredible stuff.

   
• Dreaming! Any comic book series is going to have its ups and downs. A series which had less downs than usual was Neil Gaiman's Sandman. A complete reimagining of the cheesy DC Comics character...

My favorite thing to come out of the series was Sandman's sister, Death, as she appeared in the mini-series spin-offs by Gaiman Chris Bachalo...

Death: The High Cost of Living is easily one of my all-time favorite comic books.

And now comes the news that Netflix has commissioned a Sandman TV show. Despite the fact that Gaiman himself will be involved, I am more than a little nervous. The series seems all but unfilmable given the visual language of Sandman's world. And the stories are wildly tied to the medium they were created for, and I question how well they will translate to television. I hope it's good. I hope Death makes an appearance...

"A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. Fearful for his safety, the wizard kept him imprisoned in a glass bottle for decades. After his escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power."

   
• German! I ran across one of my favorite Trevor Noah's Between the Scenes the other day...

I mean, they're all good... but his wit is at its sharpest here.

   
• Mermaids! Disney has found their latest live-action princess when they cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. She's incredibly talented and I know of her from appearing in Grown-ish (the TV spin-off from Black-ish)...

Halle Bailey
Photo by Evan Agostini

Disney, being the savvy company they are, cast who they felt was best for bringing the character to life... regardless of race. She's a Grammy nominee, for heaven's sake. But of course the bigot brigade is all #NotMyAriel because the idea of a fictional half-fish girl being played by a Person of Color is just too much for their tiny brains to process. Time will tell If Bailey will make a good Ariel. Personally I am trusting Disney on this. But holy crap... give the young woman a chance! They haven't even started filming yet! I sure hope she isn't bothered by all this nonsense.

   
• Plus Plus! Speaking of Disney... as if the Marvel and Star Wars series in development weren't enough reason to compel me to subscribe to the Disney+ streaming service when it debuts later this year, now they've got a new series called Life and Deaf in development with one of my all-time favorite actors, Marlee Matlin. Somebody at Disney is very, very serious about competing with Netflix!

   
Have a great Sunday!

   

Bullet Sunday 620

Posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2019

Dave!I'd rather be anywhere else today, but escape is not in the cards... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• MADness! It was announced this past week that MAD magazine will end its original-content run with the August 2019 issue. After that, it's all reprints with new covers that will only be available by subscription or in comic shops. Despite not having picked up an issue in years, this is more than a little sad to me, because MAD was a huge part of my past. I bought occasional issues in the latter-half of the 1970's, but became a MAD addict after the December 1978 issue (the Star Wars musical parody issue)...

I purchased every single issue from No. 203 through No. 250, at which time I went back to only buying issues that had material I was interested in. I also purchased every reprint book I could get my hands on, scouring the local News Agency to obtain as many as I could find by my favorite MAD contributors... like Al Jaffe, Sergio Aragonés, Don Martin, and Dave Berg... and, of course, Antonio Prohías, who was the guy behind Spy vs. Spy. It's not just my favorites that are burned into my brain... contributors like Mort Drucker, Dick DeBartolo, and Jack Davis did a huge amount of work for the magazine and were a big influence on how I saw the world.

   
• Mushu? A gorgeous trailer dropped for the live-action version of Mulan...

It looks like Disney put some serious money into this remake! But where's Mushu? Is Eddie Murphy coming back to voice Mulan's dragon? Is Mushu even going to BE in the film? I will be sorely disappointed if he is not. Characters like that are what make it a Disney movie.

   
• Blown Away! I've never blown glass myself, but I love the art of it and I've been to many, many glassblowing shops. Including my idol Dale Chihuly's shop in Tacoma (and many of his installations) plus I've traveled to the "glassblowing island" of Murano in Venice so I could see the famous shops there as well. I love glass and have circled the globe to see the best of it. So you can imagine how excited I was when I learned that Netflix was developing a show called Blown Away...

Fortunately it's a show like Forged in Fire where the focus of the series is on the artistry rather than the shitty manufactured personal drama (ala Ink Master), which makes it fun to watch. The contestants are pretty great... the massive 10-furnace facility they built to host the show is amazing... some of the pieces are truly remarkable.... and the tension and drama from breakage is high. I do have some problems, however... A) Why aren't there enough tools for everybody that they have to wait for somebody to finish at a critical juncture? Also find it strange that they have to share hot-boxes. B) I don't get how the host got this gig. What experience does he have in order to be qualified to weigh in on the judging? According to his site, he's a professional rollerblader and organic chemist? WTF? C) Why can't we hear the judges deliberate? This would go a long way towards understanding their decisions. D) Why the time limit for a GLASS art competition? I'd much rather give them enough time that they can take risks and not be finished if they break late in the game.

Despite all that, Blown Away is still a great show if you love glass... or art... or demonstrations of skill.

   
• Blank! Netflix keeps blowing up their original entertainment, and Blown Away is not the only thing that's new this week... we also got a movie called Point Blank, a remake of a French film starring Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo...

The concept is good. Mackie and Grillo are good. And money was spent on getting the action scenes right. Which is why I'm kinda puzzled as to why I feel so "meh" about the film. Perhaps because the most memorable thing about it was some truly bizarre 80's music choices. I guess I'm glad I watched it, but it didn't really grab me as I would have expected.

   
• Aziz! And Netflix isn't done there! They also released a new stand-up special by one of my favorite comedians, Aziz Ansari...

Aziz Ansari on Netflix

I'm not going to lie, it was an awkward show to watch. Aziz addressed the sexual misconduct allegations which were brought against him at the very beginning. But not really. He more "acknowledged" it than really "addressed" it. But he does seem sincere about having regrets and having learned something, so I guess that's better than nothing. From there Aziz goes on to deliver a varied set covering a range of topics, and most of it is pretty funny. What's not so funny is his delivery, which is subdued and kinda sad as he sits on a stool and sometimes speaks so quietly you can barely hear him. This is a wild departure from his previous stand-up specials which were crackling with energy... but he has moments of poignancy which wouldn't have worked otherwise, so I guess it was necessary. If you're a fan, Aziz Ansari: Right Now is worth a look. But don't expect what you've been conditioned to expect from him.

   
• Tacumentary! Last up on my parade of new Netflix shows? Las Crónicas del Taco. A documentary film on one of my favorite dishes... tacos! This trailer is in Spanish, but the documentary series has subtitles in English and French available...

Even though I'm a vegetarian, I still found this meat-based-documentary series to be fascinating. And depressing at times when brief glimpses of the animals are shown, because the conditions they are kept is not ideal. And with six different episodes exploring the history and preparation of six different style of tacos... Pastor (shepherd-style pork), Carnitas (slow-cooked pork), Canasta (basket-stacked tacos), Asada (grilled beef), Barbacoa (barbecue pit-style), and Guisado (stew)... there's more than enough taco here for your viewing pleasure. Worth a look if you're a foodie... or even if you're not, really.

   
• IN THE NEWS: TRUMP TAX PLAN LEADS TO $54 BILLION DECLINE IN CHARITABLE GIVING. "Many Americans want to give generously to charities, but they may not be able to afford to do so now with the changes implemented in the 2018 tax law." — The charity I work with knew that there would be a hit. Nobody had any idea it would be this bad. What's so horrible is that many charities fill in the gaps for people who are just trying to survive. As more and more people lose government assistance thanks to Trump Administration cuts, the number of people who will rely on charities increases... all while donations to these charities decreases. It's a recipe for disaster. But, hey... billionaires got tax cuts so they could gold-plate the toilets on their private jets, and that's what's important, right?

   
• Boys from the Dwarf! If the truth be told, Red Dwarf went on longer than it should have. Things started to go downhill with Series VI, and everything that came after that was really hit or miss. But, man, those early seasons are some of my most favorite television ever, so I'm always glad to see "The Boys from the Dwarf" again... even if it's just in a commercial...

And now I want to go back and watch the show all over again.

   
Bon Voyage, my Sunday bullets.

   

Bullet Sunday 621: Comic-Con Edition

Posted on Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Dave!Hope you like comic book super-hero movies... because a Very Special Marvel Cinematic Universe at Comic-Con Edition of Bullet Sunday (filled with post Avengers: Endgame spoilers) starts... now...

   
• Black Widow — May 1, 2020

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The crowd at Hall H at Comic-Con were treated to actual footage of Black Widow's solo movie (AT LONG LAST!). Since she's, like, um... dead... the film takes place in the past, but that's better than nothing, I suppose. It's a spy-action thriller featuring Captain America villain Taskmaster and promises lots of the cool hand-to-hand combat that Natasha is famous for. As with every other Marvel film which delves into the MCU's past, there's bound to be a motherlode of clever back-story surprises for stuff that's happening in current movies. I love that. But I sure hope it doesn't detract from Black Widow, since this is likely her last major MCU appearance. I would definitely be okay if Hawkeye shows up so we can finally find out what happened in Budapest!

   
• The Falcon and Winter Soldier — Fall, 2020 (Disney+)

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Look... the minute that John Wick’s Derek Kolstad signed on as a writer, I didn't need to hear anything else. I love Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in their roles, so everything else is gravy. And it looks like Marvel is serious about the flavor of that gravy because Kolstad knows how to write kick-ass action and they're bringing back Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo. I'd pay for six months of Disney+ just to see this show.

   
• The Eternals — Nov. 6, 2020

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All the rumors proved to be true when Angelina Jolie walked out on the stage, confirming that she would be headlining the film about Marvel's god-like beings, The Eternals. The comic book has revised the characters so many times that I've lost count, but their astounding power is sure to make them interesting cinematic material. The cast announced was as follows... Angelina Jolie as Athena, Richard Madden as Icarus, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makari, Brian Tyree Henry as Fastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Lia McHugh as Sprite. I was never a huge fan of the comics, but I am interested to see how the characters will be fit into the MCU. This being Marvel, I'm guessing characters from the current movies will make an appearance, but I'm not quite sure how that's going to work. Could be that Marvel is just going to keep them entirely separate, but I doubt it.

   
• Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — Feb. 12, 2021

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What began as a comic book rip-off of the television show Kung-Fu (which was called Master of Kung-Fu), Shang-Chi was gradually worked into the Marvel Universe proper. Unfortunately, most times he was shoe-horned into stories in ways I didn't think worked very well. Like him showing up and training Spider-Man how to fight better or something silly like that. For the movie, it looks like Marvel is working hard to not have the character seem silly. First of all they are bringing in the real Mandarin as the villain (as opposed to the fake Mandarin from Iron Man 3). Second of all, they've added Awkwafina to the cast. That alone guarantees I'll be watching.

   
• Loki — Spring 2021 (Disney+)

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When it was announced that Loki would be getting a series for Disney+, there was a lot of speculation as to how that would happen... seeing as how he's dead and all. But then Avengers: Endgame comes along and shows how the Loki from the past (immediately following the first Avengers movie) escapes with the Space Infinity Stone. This means the Loki we'll be seeing in this series has never experienced the events in Thor: The Dark World, Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, or Avengers: Infinity War. He's just been defeated by Thor and likely still hates him. A lot. That should prove interesting. Especially if Chris Hemsworth is kind enough to make an appearance.

   
• WandaVision — Spring, 2021 (Disney+)

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Yet another show with a dead main character... this time The Vision... who perished in Infinity War. In the comics Wanda went insane when the children she conceived with Vision were erased and used her substantial powers to create an alternate reality. That could be what we end up with here. Wanda somehow creates a new reality where The Vision was never killed by Thanos. Whether Vision will be back for good at the end of the series is anybody's guess (I hope so!) but the big news to come from Comic-Con was that Teyonah Parris was cast to play an adult Monica Rambeau, and she'd be a big part of the show. Monica is the daughter of Maria Rambeau, Carol Danvers' best friend in Captain Marvel. Since that film took place in the past, she'd be all grown up in the present. Cool.

   
• Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — May 7, 2021

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Now this is interesting. Apparently the events of WandaVision will lead directly into this movie, and Scarlet Witch will be a big part of it. Sooooo... perhaps Wanda pulls a new Vision from an alternate universe which causes a big multiverse problem that Doctor Strange has to deal with? Hopefully Wong will be back. And Mordo (I want my Chiwetel Ejiofor!). Apparently this time it's a full-on horror film, which could be very interesting. If nothing else, it will be different! What I love here is how Marvel Studios is so tightly integrating the Disney+ shows into the MCU... this won't be a Netflix situation where the shows are kinda-maybe-sorta-possibly in the MCU.

   
• Hawkeye — Fall, 2021 (Disney+)

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The Matt Fraction and David Aja Hawkeye comic series is one of my favorite comic books of all time. When they announced that Disney + would be giving us a Hawkeye series, all I wanted... ALL I wanted... was to have them adapt the comic book... or at least draw inspiration from it. Well... wish granted. Not only are they using the logo from the comic book, it was announced that Kate Bishop (a character from the comics) would be in the show! They also said that we'll see more of Clint's time as Ronin between Infinity War and Endgame. Assumably a huge part of the series will be Clint dealing with the guilt of Black Widow's death, which is important. A lot of people hate that Hawkeye wasn't the one to die, so hopefully this series will change their mind as to why Hawkeye needed to live.

   
• Thor Love & Thunder — Nov. 5, 2021

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Of all the bombshells dropped in Hall H at Comic-Con, here was the big one. We knew that Chris Hemsworth was coming back as Thor... we knew that Tessa Thompson was coming back as Valkyrie... and we knew that Taika Waititi would be back to helm the whole thing. But the big surprise? NATALIE PORTMAN appeared on stage when it was announced that not only would Jane Foster be returning... she would be the new Thor! This storyline was a very good one for the comics, so I'm excited to see it happen in the MCU. In many ways, it makes sense. Chris Hemsworth has said that he wants to take time off for a while to be with his family, so this allows there to be a new Thor movie where he can play an (assumably) smaller part. It also opens the door to Original Thor appearing in Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 3, something I'm dying to see. How great was that team-up in Endgame?

   
• What If? — Date Unknown (Disney+)

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All we know is that this will be an animated series on Disney+ which features the voice talents of the actors who originally portrayed the characters... but since this is an alternate reality "What if this happened...???" kind of show, they won't be the characters we know. They'll be altered versions of those from the movies. In addition to Jeffrey Wright narrating the show as Uatu The Watcher, the cast announced so far has been: Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark), David Dastmalchian (one of Scott Lang's friends from the Ant-Man films), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster), Sean Gunn (Kraglin), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Djimon Hounsou (Korath), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Toby Jones (Arnim Zola), Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Michael Rooker (Yondu), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier), Chris Sullivan (Taserface), Stanley Tucci (Dr. Erskine), and Taika Waititi (Korg). No idea where they're going to go with this, but I'm interested in finding out!

   
• Blade — Date Unknown

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At the end of the event, MCU Mastermind Kevin Feige said he was sorry he didn't have time to get into Fantastic Four, mutants (X-Men), and all the rest... but he did have one final surprise... Mahershala Ali walked out and put a Blade hat on, so apparently they're rebooting that series! Ali is a phenomenal actor (he was Cottonmouth in Luke Cage!) and is memorable in everything he does (even in small parts like in Hidden Figures). He's a fantastic successor to Wesley Snipes for the role, and I will be interested to see if they go with an R rating or drop down to a PG-13. I am really hoping for the former.

   
And that's all she wrote from Marvel. I was disappointed that we didn't get any information on Black Panther 2, Ant-Man 3, Captain Marvel 2, Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four, and Guardians of the Galaxy 3... but I guess you can't have everything. I'm guessing all of these will be released in 2022 and beyond, which seems like a long, long time away.

The surprising thing here is that there are only two new Marvel movies for 2020, and they're far from heavy hitters (Black Widow and The Eternals). This feels like a misstep, but maybe everybody has to catch their breath after Infinity War/Endgame? Oh well. Looks like Disney+ will be taking up the slack. I was really hoping that once the FOX acquisition was finalized that Marvel Studios might move from three movies a year to four movies a year, which would still be less super-hero flicks than when both studios were actively producing them.

And that leaves Iron Man. Obviously they're going to have a new one at some point. My guess is that they will let the character rest for a while first. But seeds will have to be planted. Pepper Potts is pretty much out now that Gwyneth Paltrow wants out. Will they make it be Riri Williams as Ironheart?

As for what's still missing in the MCU that I want to see?

• Alpha Flight. Canada's super-hero team, which was done so very well in the Scott Lobdell and Clayton Henry run.

• Moon Knight. This is essentially Marvel's Batman. If they got the right actor, this could be a really interesting addition.

• Namor. This is essentially Marvel's Aquaman... with arguably a more interesting take on an undersea hero.

• Ms. Marvel. Might be a better fit for Disney+ but I still want to see Kamala Khan in the MCU.

• Power Pack. Super-power kids? The perfect animated series for Disney+ methinks.

• Captain Britain. And if he wanted to bring along Excalibur, Britain's super-team, that would be great!

• Longshot Another perfect property for Disney+, this is a really fun character and one few mainstream audiences seem to know about.

Eventually they need to reboot The Defenders back into the MCU as well, don't they? At the very least Daredevil and Luke Cage!

And that's a wrap. So many Marvel bullets to look forward to, but I'm always wanting more.

   

Endgame and Again

Posted on Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Dave! I wrote about Avengers: Endgame after watching it at the theater.

But when it was released on digital earlier this week, I decided to give it another look... then another look... so I could comment on it in a bit more linear fashion.

I still feel it's an amazing movie.... and even more amazing accomplishment...

Avengers Endgame Movie Poster

   
Obviously there's going to be an abumndance of spoilers, so you've been warned...

Spoiler Zone!

The opening of the movie acts as a good recap of where we left off in Infinity War but, thankfully, isn't repetitive. Then Captain Marvel shows up, you realize that the Avengers she met in the Captain Marvel mid-credits scene ("Where's Fury?") must have sent her to find any off-planet Avengers survivors, and we're off to the races. The idea that the Earth Avengers and Space Avengers have no idea which of their teammates survived "The Snap" is pretty gutting. Especially when you get to Rocket comforting Nebula. And watching Rocket in these opening scenes just boggles my mind. You simply do not question that he's an actual character on-par with everybody else in the film. And he's a raccoon! Talk about movie magic.

Right from the start of Endgame you can tell that the entire purpose of the film is to wrap up everything which came before it. There's never-ending echos to past movies, and true fans are constantly being rewarded. This is pretty wild when you consider that Captain Marvel, easily the most powerful character in the entire film and the lynchpin for dealing with Thanos, hadn't even shot her solo movie when Endgame was being made. How everybody collaborated to make her appearance here sync up power-wise, visual-wise, and tone-wise with the Captain Marvel movie is the true marvel of Marvel Studios. There are single films which lack this kind of consistency. But here's Marvel making it look (relatively) effortless across 22 films (23 if you count Spider-Man: Far From Home).

Nowhere is Marvel's cohesiveness more visible than when Nebula is on-screen. She is a bit-part villain from a D-List comic book which has now become a central figure in the biggest super-hero team-up in cinematic history. It's so jaw-dropping amazing that I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. Yes, Marvel had a master plan to use Infinity Gems as MacGuffins in all their films from very early on with the intent of somehow tying them all together in the end, but the fact that they managed to pull it all of this well? Thank you Kevin Feige.

Back to Captain Marvel... it's fairly easy to see how her off-the-charts power level is going to be challenging going forward. The current solution seems to be to have her be "off-planet and unavailable" but that's going to get really tired really fast. I mean, come on... just look at her when they're off to attack Thanos! How many problems couldn't she solve in five minutes? Sure it's cool how totally confident she is, how kick-ass she is, how powerful she is... and her glowing aura is giddy-inducing wonderful... but I'm more than a little curious to see how she's going to play out in the future of the MCU.

Killing Thanos in the first twenty minutes is pretty ballsy, but it definitely leaves you wondering where they're going to go from here if the main villain of the movie is gone. And little did we suspect...

Five Years Later.

And lo did a rat activate the Quantum Tunnel which freed Ant-Man from being trapped in The Quantum Realm! It's funny to think about how Ant-Man ends up being the key to absolutely everything, but that's how Marvel rolls. They find surprising ways to make small characters have big impact in the grand scheme of things. Fortunately, they've got the ample acting chops of Paul Rudd behind the character or these scenes of "life after The Snap" would have rang hollow (ditto for Scarlett Johansson, who has a handle on somebody being haunted like nobody's business).

At the 30-minute-mark, Scott Lang shows up at Avengers Compound and the movie starts for real.

It also shows its hand.

Because the minute that I saw how much time they were devoting to Tony Stark's happy post-Snap life, I knew... knew... he was a goner. Luckily, Robert Downey Jr. gives the performance of a lifetime and totally sells it. Watching him interact with his daughter... with Pepper... with his former teammates... it's all so... beautiful?... I guess is the word I'm looking for? Tony's character arc over the past decade has totally come full-circle, and it's everything you could hope for. And speaking of story arcs...

Here we are introduced to Smart Hulk... the merging of The Hulk and Bruce Banner. It's a wonderful coda to Bruce Banner's arc through all the Marvel Studios films. Finally, at long last, Banner and Hulk are at peace and living in harmony. It's also a terrific starting point for new Hulk stories (should we be lucky enough to get them). What's even more remarkable than Smart Hulk is the absolutely mind-blowing computer graphics which brought him to life. Flawless. His every facial expression is realized to such a degree that the whole "Uncanny Valley Effect" is minimized. At no point did he take me out of the story. It's just... all Mark Ruffalo all the time.

If there's a scene which illustrates just how deftly Marvel manages to work humor into their stories, it's the time travel experiments with Scott. It's funny, but it's not just being injected at random for the sake of being funny (like the horrific Joss Whedon "humor" that was shoe-horned into DC's Justice League after the fact). Marvel's humor feels like it has purpose and is there to advance and serve the story. And that's why it succeeds. Plus we get Smart Hulk handing out tacos!

If you didn't think that Tony Stark was going to die after watching his family scenes, you definitely knew it when he handed Cap his shield back.

The reunion between Hulk and Valkyrie, completely cementing Thor: Ragnarok even further into the MCU grand narrative, is one of the rare moments in the film that had me scrambling for an explanation. In Ragnarok, Bruce didn't remember anything about his 5 years as The Grandmaster's "beloved champion." But here he does. Which means that when Banner and Hulk merged, the result has memory experience of both? That's gotta be the stuff of nightmares.

I read more than a few comments about how Thor's weight gain was just a way to make fun of heavier people. I didn't see this at all. The result of Thor's PTSD actually seemed like it was handled with great thought and care... even if there were some comments made by other characters which were pretty mean and played for laughs. What did bother me was the whole "shake it off and move on" attitude that was leveled at poor Thor. That seems deliberately cruel and unjust. After what he's been through, you'd expect a bit more empathy from his friends. On the bright side, this is yet another remarkable performance by Chris Hemsworth which has me dying to see more Thor.

Clint Barton's descent into a murdering vengeance-seeking bastard seems a bit forced but, seeing as how the guy lost his entire family, perhaps it's not such a stretch. This "Ronin" persona is kinda-sorta from the comics, but it makes even less sense in this film. Why in the hell would Hawkeye give up the bow and arrow with which he reigns supreme? Obviously the ramifications of Endgame will be explored in the Hawkeye series on Disney+, so I guess they can afford to short-change his character here... but it still seems wild how his character could change so much with so little explanation.

And here's where we get to how time travel works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I'm saving my thoughts on how it works for further down the page, but suffice to say I really like what they've done here. It makes perfect sense. Regardless, we get current Avengers going back into earlier Marvel Studios movies, and how cool is that?

Ahead to the Past.

And here's where the fun begins...

ANT MAN, IRON MAN, & CAPTAIN AMERICA: The "behind the scenes" of what happened after the Battle of New York was kinda cool... but hands-down the best moment was how Cap managed to secure the scepter from Hydra. Right before Robert Redford makes a guest appearance! I was even more surprised by this than I was at seeing The Ancient One! And of course this is where Loki from the past becomes the new Loki, allowing him to appear in his Disney+ series while not negating his death in Avengers: Infinity War. Clever that. Almost as clever as "America's Ass."

SMART HULK: The amount I died when Smart Hulk was "smashing" to impersonate his more rage-fueled earlier self was pretty huge. Then he goes to retrieve the Time Stone and the first of many guest-appearance bombshells is dropped... The Ancient One is back! Mainly as a way to explain how time works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Again. Which, again, I will comment on further down the page.

THOR & ROCKET: Frigga coming back to help Thor in the way only a mother can was exceedingly sweet. Finally, here's somebody not making fun of Thor for being traumatized by what he's experienced and genuinely trying to help. At least until she told him to eat a salad. We also get the tiniest of appearances by Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, which was nice. And was probably due to her coming back for Thor: Love and Thunder.

NEBULA & RHODEY: They could have easily come up with a way to remove the Power Stone without stripping the shell off of Nebula's robotic arm, but it's actually a genius move because it will be an easy visual cue for distinguishing "good" Nebula from her "bad" past-self. Out of all the teams, this is the one that gets a lot complex in a little amount of time thanks to Thanos of the time finding out what The Avengers are up to.

IRON MAN, & CAPTAIN AMERICA: Well this was an added bonus. We get guest appearances not only by 1970's hippie Stan Lee and Farrah-hair Hank Pym... but Howard Stark and Peggy Carter as well! Seeing as how Tony dies and Steve ends up retired, I suppose it's only fitting that they get to reconcile the relationships which most haunt them.

BLACK WIDOW & HAWKEYE: I realize that the only way to make victory ring true would be for some sacrifices to be made along the way... but Black Widow? Like Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, she's the glue that holds all the movies together. Unlike Nick Fury, Natasha has been pretty much shafted over the years. She exists only to forward other characters' stories without getting much of story of her own. Sure they are remedying that by finally giving her her own film, but she's forever stuck in the past now, and that's lame. She deserved a future in the MCU after how she's been there for literally everybody else, and now she ain't got one. Still, given how The Soul Stone works, I guess somebody had to die. I don't know that Hawkeye would be a better choice, so maybe this was the right choice. I certainly feel it more than if it had been Clint. But I'm still bitter about it.

Avengers Assemble!

I'll try to ignore the question of how The Milano (ship to The Guardians of the Galaxy) has evaporated only to appear again at the end of the film... let's just assume that Clint shrunk it again before he went forward in time. And it seems weird it is that The Infinity Gauntlet conveniently courses with gamma radiation just like The Hulk, giving him the ability to wield it... whatever. What I'd like to focus on is how Ant-Man has the ability to shrink... then grow into Giant-Man... when it was made abundantly clear that he was out of Pym particles? This gaping plot hole is ridiculously easy to see, and yet it was totally ignored. And Janet VanDyne was absolutely not wearing The Wasp suit when she was dusted (I checked) so where did she get her Pym Particles?

The final battle was pretty phenomenal, all things considered.

Even when you give a pass to Captain America being able to lift Thor's hammer. There's plenty of comic book history precedent for Steve being able to wield Mjölnir. Heck, the MCU hinted that it was possible back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was a smart way to give Captain America the ability to take on Thanos which was believable. What I don't understand is how he got to control lightning with it. As explained by Odin in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor himself is where the lightning comes from, and Mjölnir merely allows him to focus it more easily. Perhaps Mjölnir has some kind of residual lightning charge which makes this possible, but it still seems an odd thing to have happen. How does Cap even know how to make the lightning work? How does he know how to summon Mjölnir in the first place?

No other point in the movie hit more of an emotional note with me than when Cap is facing horrific odds all alone against Thanos and his entire army... than when he hears Sam say "On your left" through his earpiece. That's yet another nod to a past MCU film (Winter Soldier). It's the turning point of the entire movie, and any fan of the past decade will be cheering.

Back in Civil War when Hawkeye is facing off against Black Panther, an opponent for which he's badly outmatched, he buys time by saying "We haven't been introduced. My name is Clint." Black Panter says "I don't care." and proceeds to start pummeling his ass. During the Endgame final battle, Black Panther wants the Infinity Gauntlet and says "Clint, give it to me," at which point I got the warm fuzzies. Awwwwwww. T'Challa remembered his name! He must care a little bit after all!

Poor Wanda. She has to deliver the same line to Thanos that she gave to Ultron. Lucky for her, she's definitely got the power to back up any threat she makes, and having her battle Thanos was pretty sweet.

Spider-Man bringing back "instant-kill" from Homecoming was an LOL moment for me.

Captain Marvel gets the entrance to beat all entrances, and watching her decimate Thanos's ship all by her lonesome was pretty epic. Though not quite as epic as it would have been had we not already seen her so that in Captain Marvel. Still, having her be the only one who can truly go toe-to-toe with Thanos via brute force was more than enough.

The "Ladies of the MCU" moment may have been artificial and manufactured, but I just don't care. We've come a long way from when Black Widow was the sole female super-hero in the MCU.

And then we reach the end of the battle when Doctor Strange tells Tony that this is the moment.

I really, really, wish somebody had laughed at Thanos as his shit faded away.

Ending Endgame!

Rumor has it that Tony originally had dialogue as he lay dying. Robert Downey Jr. felt it would be more powerful if there was nothing left for him to say... his actions and sacrifice speaking more than words ever could... and he's absolutely right. Watching as the beginning of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe from the very first film has his life fade away was about as powerful way to close out The first decade as we could have hoped for.

The reactions from the characters at Tony's service are interesting... as is the order which they appear. His family is first, of course. Followed by his closest friends. Followed by Captain America, who has seen many, many soldiers die in battle, and you kind of get that perspective on his face... stoic, but showing loss. Since Peter Parker is just a kid, I'm glad they had Aunt May there for him. Thor has experienced loss that nobody else here could possibly fathom, so Hemsworth gave him an unease that is perfectly fitting. Smart Hulk's more emotional response was exactly what was needed to drive home that this Hulk is very different from the early days of the character. Doctor Strange is in the unique position of knowing that he essentially sent Tony to his death, but also knows there was literally no other possible way to win this. The Ant-Man "family" had little to do with Tony Stark, so they appear a bit more detached, as they should be. The Guardians of the Galaxy have the most interesting response. All but Quill are aliens, and their perspectives on death are undoubtedly far removed from ours, which is smartly reflected. Note that Gamora is gone, her character having reverted back to a more raw state (something confirmed in the deleted scenes). Also note that Nebula gets a longer shot than most, which is apt considering how she is closest to the entire Infinity Saga and crucial to how it played out. Black Panther, Okoye, and Shuri's presence representing Wakanda is appropriately stately and reserved. Clint and his family here are a bit more affected than you'd expect... until you realize that this goodbye is more about Natasha to them than Tony Stark. Sam and Bucky, who have done nothing but fight since they met, have common ground here, leading directly into their upcoming Disney+ series, I'm sure. Wanda, likewise, is probably thinking more about losing Vision than Tony, but that too is leading into a Disney+ series. The young guy standing alone confused some people, but I recognized him immediately as Harley, the kid from Iron Man 3, and I'm glad they thought to add him here. I completely missed Maria Hill and General Ross when I saw the film in theaters, but it makes sense they're here. Captain Marvel is the one character who feels a bit out of place, yet it would be strange if she weren't here given her impact on the final battle. And then there's Nick Fury, the glue that holds the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe together saved for last. Perfect.

It was nice at the end to acknowledge that Tony wasn't the only one who sacrificed his life. Black Widow and Vision are gone as well. Though Black Widow has a movie coming up, and Vision is assumably a part of the WandaVision Disney+ series.

Valkyrie becoming queen of New Asgard is absolutely fitting, and sure to be explored in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. Having Thor rejoin the "Asguardians of the Galaxy" should have interesting consequences going forward for both these franchises.

And... here's the end-end-end of the movie. Cap heads back with the Infinity Stones to prevent new realities from ever forming, Hulk acknowledges that he misses Natasha, and Falcon is given Old Cap's shield (from an alternate reality, see below) so he can become the new Captain America. Of course Bucky is there, which is a jumping off point for the new Falcon and Winter Soldier Disney+ series. Neat!

The End!

Paradoxically Speaking?

After the movie debuted, fanboys immediately got their panties in a bunch because of Steve Rogers' decision to go back in time and lives a life with Peggy Carter that he would have had if he hadn't been frozen in ice for decades. "THIS CONFLICTS WITH PEGGY SAYING THAT SHE MARRYING SOMEBODY STEVE RESCUED IN THE FIRST MOVIE!" and "STEVE ERASED PEGGY'S LIFE WITH HER HUSBAND AND KIDS! WHAT AN ASSHOLE!" Except... he didn't. As the movie went into meticulous detail explaining, that's not what happens with time travel disruptions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As explained by Hulk and Nebula to Ant-Man and Rhodey before they experiment on Clint... any change to the past creates an alternate reality...

This was such an important point for the story that they had The Ancient One re-explain it to The Hulk. The writers literally provided visuals to make it crystal clear...

Which is why I go crazy every time I hear a new diatribe on Captain America's time travel being a plot-hole. Let's break this down one more time, shall we? If you go to the past, the future becomes your past, so the future can't be changed. So when you change something in the past (like take an Infinity Stone), a new reality is created where that Infinity Stone has disappeared from existence. In order to fix this, Captain America went back in time and returned the stones to a point before any changes would create a new reality. Namely, he returned them to immediately after they were taken in the first place. This closed the loop and the new reality which was created then fades away because it never existed...

Visual representation of Infinity Stone time travel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It's an incredibly simple concept.

And it applies to Steve Rogers' journey back in time as well.

At the end of Endgame, Steve returns the Infinity Stones and all the new realities created by their removal no longer exist. He then goes back in time to the late 40's or early 50's... before Peggy Carter got married and had kids... to live out his life with her. As clearly stated, this change creates a new reality where Steve is the one who marries Peggy. His original reality... the reality of all the Marvel Studios movies... where Peggy got married to some other guy, had kids, got dementia, then died... still exists because, to Steve, it's the past. And after Peggy died and Steve was ready to return to his original reality, he traveled back into the past BEFORE the new reality was created... then traveled into the future of the original reality as an old man (which is what we see at the end of the movie)...

Visual representation of Captain America time travel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So does this mean that other reality where he married Peggy was erased? NO! because now that is in Steve's past! That reality is still there too. An alternate reality which may or may not be revisited in future Marvel films.

It all makes perfect sense, and everything works exactly as it was spelled out in the movie. If there's a plot-hole here, it's that the objects which the stones were encased were forgotten...

I love that YouTube Channel. And, no, I have no clue as to what happened in the new reality which was created when Loki escaped with the Space Stone. Perhaps that will be addressed in his Disney+ series? Because unless he crosses back over into the primary reality, that's where he is now. Our Loki is still dead. I guess I'll just ignore it all until we actually get the series.

And yet...

WHERE DID OLD CAP'S SHIELD COME FROM?!? If he brought it from the new reality he created when he went back to be with Peggy... if he found his other-dimensional-self in the ice there, then dug up the shield, but left himself frozen... does that Captain America not get a shield when he is rescued from the ice in the future? Or maybe Old Cap waits until New Reality Cap wakes up, then asks himself for the shield so he can take it back to his original reality, leaving New Reality Cap with nothing? Or did he go to New Reality Wakanda and convince them to make him a second shield so he had one to take back with him? That would have been interesting to see. Or... best theory... New Reality Captain America dies, and Old Cap retrieves the shield? Who the heck know? Regardless, it's incredibly lame that this gaping plot hole was left dangling. One can only hope that the New Reality Steve created will be revisited in future MCU films so we can have an answer... or ten.

Final Thoughts.

Given the nature of comic books, there's nothing to say that Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Natasha Romanoff can't return in future movies, even though somebody new will undoubtedly be taking up their super-hero mantles (ala Sam becoming Captain America). They could come back in dream sequences... flashbacks... resurrections... alternate reality versions... whatever. Black Widow's movie takes place entirely in the past, so that's yet another way to have them come back. Though, to be honest, it's probably more powerful if their characters aren't brought back. That kinda cheapens their sacrifice and will diminish their legacies.

So... good flick. Impossible flick given the complexities of juggling so many Marvel Studios franchises, a decade of history, and dealing with the astronomically high expectations of Marvel fans. For the most part, it feels like they succeeded. I certainly had no complaints walking out of the movie theater... or turning off my AppleTV.

As for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well, if Spider-Man: Far From Home is any indication, it's going to be just fine. Hopefully Kevin Feige will find a way to pull another rabbit out of the battered old hat with weak series like The Eternals and Shang-Chi in the pipeline. Hey, he sure managed it with Guardians of the Galaxy!

Here's hoping the next decade is even half as exciting as the first.

   

Far From Home and Alone

Posted on Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Dave!I saw Spider-Man: Far From Home quite a while ago.

But then I got busy and there never seemed to be time to sit down and write up my thoughts on it. So I just kept jotting down notes until I managed to get enough to put them in an entry. Overall I liked the movie quite a lot. Though it hasn't displaced Homecoming as my favorite MCU Spider-Man film, there was still a lot to love...

Needless to say, spoilers will follow...

Spoiler Zone!

   
Spiderman: Far From Home is a pretty great flick. I don't know that I like it better than Spider-Man: Homecoming, because that film was about as flawless as it gets, but Far From Home is a close second. Jon Watts keeps knocking Spider-Man out of the park, and I couldn't be happier about it.

Let's just bullet-point the major talking points here...

  • Tom Holland remains a flawless choice for Peter Parker / Spider-Man. First of all, he's convincing as a high school kid, which is what was missing from the previous Spider-Man films where he was an adult. Starting out as a kid is what makes Spider-Man different, and is what should be embraced. Finally we're getting that.
  • Zendaya may be underused (again), but she's got the talent and drive to make the most of every second she's on screen. I absolutely love her character, and having her discover Spider-Man's identity the way she did was pretty great.
  • I actually liked Ned better in this film even though he had a better part in the previous film. In Homecoming Ned was the "Man In The Chair" helping Spider-Man out, but that felt kinda intrusive to me. Now that Ned is just Peter's friend again (albeit one who knows his secret identity) I think he works better.
  • Happy Hogan is as critical to the MCU Spider-Man as Aunt May is, and working him in to the story they way they did was sublime. I sure hope they find ways to keep him around the MCU like this now that Iron Man is out of the picture.
  • Reimagining Mysterio the way they did was both disappointing and the smartest thing about the film. In the comics, Quentin Beck is a Hollywood stuntman and special effects artist. When he was rejected as an actor, he decided to use his ability to create movie illusions to become a super-criminal. That would take a lot to explain in a 2-hour movie, so the rumor was that they were going to reinvent him as a failed stage magician who uses magical illusions to commit crimes. While this would be a more plausible idea in a day-and-age where the vast majority of movie special effects are computer-generated, I don't know that what they ultimately came up with was better. Turns out Mysterio is actually an entire team of former Stark employees who feel wronged by Tony Stark. They combined their various talents to create a new hero so they could con the world into doing whatever they wanted to do. A part of me was like... um... you're creating some of the most advance tech on earth and can make people see whatever you want to see. Why not just covertly do whatever you want to do? Why create Mysterio at all, if this is your goal? Doesn't that just draw attention to you? It's kinda silly.
  • It used to be that I would thrill to how Marvel Studios keeps integrating all their films so tightly. I'd be all "HOW COOL IS IT THAT THE REASON THIS HAPPENED IN THIS MOVIE IS BECAUSE THAT HAPPENED IN THAT MOVIE?!?" But now that they're pulling random background people from older movies to create Team Mysterio, it's getting kinda lame. Oh look! It's the science guy that Obadiah Stane yelled at in the first Iron Man movie! Yay? Keep integrating all the Marvel films into a coherent universe for these MCU characters? Yes please! Start pulling out random background extras so you can build these connections? Nah. We're good.
  • That being said, Jake Gyllenhaal was pretty great as Quentin Beck though, right? His entire character arc hinged on him being a Tony Stark mentor replacement for Peter Parker. He had to get that just right, or the movie's premise would fail. Once he put on the EDITH glasses, Quentin's greatest illusion was complete, and you totally buy why Peter handed over EDITH to him. Brilliant casting.
  • When it comes to the EDITH glasses, however, I don't really get it. Assumably Tony built this massive drone defense system in case there's a dire threat to all humanity. Good idea. But the fact that it's useless without EDITH to control it is insane. What then... if Peter Parker dies then the system which could have helped thwart an alien invasion just sits there because the only guy who could control it is six feet under? Isn't that a bit crazy? How does that make sense? I dunno. Maybe upon Peter's death EDITH goes to Rhodey or something but, so far as plot points go, this still feels kinda nuts.
  • Another thing that seemed nuts? The crazy-ass coincidences that plague this movie. Ned and Betty just HAPPEN to be in the Ferris wheel which just HAPPENS to be where the merged elemental appears? And it just HAPPENS to be made out of the metal the elemental needs to grow more powerful so it gravitates towards it? MJ just HAPPENS to be standing where the ONLY hologram projector falls off? I mean, I get it. I read Edgar Rice Burroughs, so I know that a never-ending string of coincidences can make good fiction. But with a little more thought put into these things, it seems as though we'd have a much tighter narrative where blatant coincidences aren't required to move the story forward.
  • Nick Fury is always a welcome addition to any MCU film. How they manage to always find such smart ways to integrate him into the movies is a mystery, but I'm thankful they don't feel at all gratuitous. Not yet anyway.
  • Spider-Man's "spider sense" (branded "The Peter Tingle" in the movies) which alerts him to impending danger has always felt like a stretch in the comics. The idea is that spiders seem to be able to predict when you're about to smash them, because they always seem to be able to get out of the way first. And that's clever. In real-life it doesn't work like that (I think spiders are just sensitive to air movement and pressure changes which gives them the illusion of having a spider sense), so I was happy when the concept was seemingly abandoned in the MCU. But here it is, and it's just as inexplicable and sloppy as it's always been. Abandoned most of the time Peter should be sensing danger... but suddenly making an appearance when the writers need a way for Spider-Man to see through Mysterio's illusions. That's just a lazy crutch, and I think the movies are poorer for it.
  • I think we're at a point where the idea of amping up the action for each new Marvel film has finally reached a breaking point. Some of the action sequences in Far From Home were almost incomprehensible because there's so much going on so quickly that you can't wrap your head around it. When Spider-Man is whipping around at break-neck speeds and still able to dodge drones and handle three problems at the same time, that's his enhanced speed and reflexes doing their thing. But the audience doesn't have enhanced speed and reflexes.

If there were no huge surprises to be found in the film proper, there was one heck of a bombshell that dropped in the mid-credits sequence. First they had Mysterio reaching up from the grave to paint Spider-Man as the bad guy. This is straight out of the comics I read in the 1980's. Because in the Spider-Man comics back then (maybe even today), even when Peter wins, he ultimately loses. There's always bad to go along with the good.

Then, of course, Spider-Man's secret identity was revealed. Whoa. I like that Marvel is ditching all these stupid secret identities which feel so antiquated now... but Spider-Man is an actual kid, and this seems like a pretty Big Deal. I am very much curious to know where they go from here.

And now for some random bullets...

  • Whitney Houston's cover of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You (at the opening) and The Go-Go's Vacation (at the end) were note-perfect choices. We also got more of The Ramones with I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (using their Blitzkrieg Bop in Homecoming remains my second favorite Marvel music cue... second only to Immigrant Song in Thor: Ragnarok). I don't know how the 80's songs keep making their way into these movies, but I'm pretty happy about it.
  • A shout-out to Martin Starr, who plays Mr. Harrington. Starr manages to play the semi-clueless teacher in a way that's charming more than stupid, and I don't think many actors could pull that off as well. Casting him out of Silicon Valley is right up there with Tom Holland and Zendaya to me, because the wrong choice would have ripped you out of the movie every time he shows up.
  • Turning the Netherlands into the European Canada seemed distracting and unnecessary, and any humor that they think came from it fell pretty flat.
  • Thank heavens Peter's Iron Spider costume was left at home. He's got enough powers... more than enough powers... without having Iron-Man-like enhancements on top of it all. I was really, really hopeful that once we watched it all fall apart in Avengers: Endgame, we'd never be seeing it again.

And that's a wrap.

Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...

Ant-Man... A
Ant-Man and The Wasp... A-
Aquaman... B-
The Avengers... A+
Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Avengers: Infinity War... A
Avengers: Endgame... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice... D
Big Hero Six... A+
Black Panther... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A+
Captain Marvel... B+
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Deadpool... A
Deadpool 2... A
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four (2005)... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Fantastic Four (2015)... D+
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2... A
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy... A
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Hulk... C-
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Justice League... F
Kick-Ass... B+
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher... C+
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man... B+
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... B
Amazing Spider-Man 2... B-
Spider-Man: Homecoming... A+
Spider-Man: Far From Home... A
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse... A
Suicide Squad... D
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Thor: The Dark World... B
Thor: Ragnarok... A+
Watchmen... B
The Wolverine... B
Wonder Woman... A
X-Men... C
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: Apocalypse... D+

   

Bullet Sunday 624

Posted on Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Dave!You are not ready... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• "You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down." I was sad to learn that Toni Morrison has passed away. I read her first novel, The Bluest Eye, after graduating high school. I was looking for new voices to expand my thinking and Morrison absolutely fit that bill. She was a master of the written word, able to construct beautiful prose which can inspire you one minute then destroy you the next. Beloved, her gut-wrenching fictional account of an escaped slave who is haunted by her past, won a slew of awards (including a Pulitzer), and is essential reading. When it comes to voices defining this country, Toni Morrison will definitely be missed.

   
• Alien! If you love the movie "Alien," you should know that J.W. Rinzler's massive The Making of Alien book is on sale at Amazon for $33... regular $60. It is incredible. Easily on-par with Rinzler's other "Making of" books (like Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back). Absolutely everything that went into making the film is thoroughly covered. So many amazing pre-production design drawings by H.R. Giger and many others... tons of behind-the-scenes photos... all kinds of insights into the production from people who were there... it's all so well done...

The book cover to The Making of Alien with the DAVE APPROVED sticker on it.

Seriously, this book is easily worth $60. It's a downright steal at $33. Love love love it.

   
• Epidemic Scary as hell... and getting scarier. Big Pharma is destroying us, and politicians sucking Big Pharma lobbyist cock are looking the other way...

Lobbyist payola should be banned. Any politician accepting lobbyist payola should be shot for treason.

   
• Rookie. Well this fucking sucks. Afton Williamson is a huge reason I love The Rookie so much. This past week she quit the show, alleging that she endured sexual assault and racism while working on it...

Afton Williamson as police officer Talia Bishop on The Rookie holding a gun and about to kick ass.

WTF is wrong with people? And WTF is wrong with ABC for not creating a safe environment for their employees? This is such a great show and, to be honest, I can't really picture how it can continue without Talia Bishop. It probably can't. At least not for me.

   
• The Truth is Out There. While I would have preferred to get a sequel to Paul, I will absolutely take Truth Seekers, a new ghost-hunting show from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Amazon Prime seems to be serious about investing real money into some top=shelf talent for their streaming programs, and this should definitely (hopefully) be a feather in their cap.

   
• Bro! I have been far from a fan of Bernie Sanders. While some of his ideas make sense, he's always been past the "tipping point" on the Democrat scale for me. Then I saw this interview by Joe Rogan where he was given time to actually explain his positions and... I have to say... I'm warming up to him as a candidate. No, he likely won't get to do all the things he wants to do because he has Congressional approval to deal with, but I do think he would move this country in a more healthy direction. He certainly couldn't be worse than what we have now...

In other news? Please let Joe Rogan interview all the candidates. These idiotic "debates" that keep happening are less than useless.

   
Bye bye bye, Bullet Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 625

Posted on Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Dave!Prepare to be launched into a Galaxy far, far away... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Falcon Maps! It's interesting how the advent of Google Maps' "Aerial View" has forced Disney to change the way they build their theme parks. Originally, construction was treated like a movie set, where everything is just a big facade. The only thing that was themed is what people see. The best way to explain this is Main Street, where the dozens of little buildings you see on the ground are revealed to essentially be two giant buildings...

An aerial view of Disneyland's Main Street showing how all the buildings are under two big roofs.

They didn't build fake roofs over each building because they didn't have to. Unless somebody chartered a helicopter, nobody was ever going to see it in 1955. But now there's Google Maps that anybody can call up on their phone, so they are more careful that the illusion is complete...

Had this been built in 1955, the fine detailing would likely have been ignored. The only thing they would bother theming would be what you could see from the ground. Personally, I think this is fantastically cool. You can literally see the Millennium Falcon parked at Disneyland, and that's no small thing.

An interesting aside here... apparently Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has been a bit of a flop. People are complaining that there's only one ride and the rest of the place is just a giant shopping mall where you can buy overpriced souvenirs and food. That's it. Eventually a second ride will open but, again, that seems pretty lame. Perhaps Disney will add more stuff to make it more worth visiting, but right now it just seems like a cash grab. Another problem? Disney didn't recreate an authentic place from the movies. You're not walking around Tatooine or even shitty Jakku, you're at "Black Spire Outpost" which, let's face it, who cares? This seems like a major misstep, and I just don't get it. When Disney made an Avatar-themed land, they built Pandora from the movies so when you go there it's like stepping into the film. That's what people want to see, and anything less is inviting a tepid reaction. And that's exactly what Disney got.

   
• ZIM!!! One of the most impossibly brilliant animated series to ever grace our television sets was Invader Zim. In addition to being so brilliantly written, the look of the show was was blew my mind. It's just so beautiful. As if that weren't enough, it has GIR, Zim's robot companion, and one of my favorite characters of all-time...

Despite unprecedented critical acclaim, the series was uncerimoniously canceled by Nickelodeon because network executives are stupid. But now Netflix has revived the show for a new feature called Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus...

The movie has everything that Zim fans could want and, while it kinda-sorta wraps up the series, it also leaves things wide open for more. And I want quite badly for there to be more. Because can you ever truly have enough Zim in your life?

   
• Passport! I am not even going to spoil this. Just trust me when I tell you to click this link. Genius. Every last one of them is genius.

   
• Shazam? Ninety-one percent? Shazam got NINETY-ONE PERCENT on Rotten Tomatoes? Really? One minute it's childish and stupid as shit... the next minute there's a demon is biting somebody's head off. So exactly who was this movie made for? Psychotic children?

Shazam in his stupid suit looking at a stupid mobile phone while stupidly blowing a bubble with some gum.

Even if you ignore the stupid glowing lightning-bolt-that-looks-more-like-a-triangle on his uniform, Shazam was awful. WHAT HAPPENED TO HAVING THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON? THIS SHAZAM IS A FUCKING IDIOT! About the only thing I enjoyed was Mark Strong as Sivana, despite the fact that he was a complete departure from the comic book's Dr. Sivana (and not in a good way, of course). I cannot fathom how this managed to rate 91%. I just don't get it. The only thing that kept it from total disaster for me is that they didn’t have any burp or fart jokes. At least I think the movie didn’t... I fast forwarded through the foster home stuff because all the kids were just so annoying. GRADE: D+

   
• Days of Meat! On my blog entry for "The Impossible Whopper" I mentioned that it has been 33 years, 3 months, and 24 days since I last ate meat. A friend messaged me and asked how I could possibly remember the last day I ate meat. It's actually pretty easy. It was Earth Day, 1986. I remember it because my girlfriend at the time was a vegan and didn't want to kiss me because I "smelled like meat." I had a hamburger for lunch and she got mad because I "couldn't even go meat-free on Earth Day." And so I gave up eating meat right then and there. We broke up a month-and-a-half later, so I was going to go back to eating meat... except I was feeling better than I had ever felt. The allergies which had plagued me since adolescence were gone, so I stuck with a vegetarian diet. I've since learned that many people are allergic to the antibiotics they inject into animals, which probably explains why I was in such poor health my first 20 years.

   
• Cook Cook Cooking! Yesterday I spent a big chunk of my day in the kitchen making up meals to refrigerate and freeze. I made burritos. I made rolls. I made Mac & Cheese, I made quiche... and I made my grandmother's enchiladas recipe. While not rocket science, enchiladas make a lot of dirty dishes and a big mess (especially when you make the sauce from scratch). It's also time consuming to put them all together. And even though I started three hours before dinner-time, my cats were all excited because they thought they were getting fed. So it went something like this...

THE ENCHILADA WALTZ
Remove tortilla from the frying oil.
Put fresh tortilla in the frying oil.
"No, kitties, it's not dinner time yet."
Put the filling in the tortilla.
Put the cheese in the tortilla.
Flip the tortilla that's in the frying oil.
Fold up the enchilada and add it to the pan.
"No, kitties, it's not dinner time yet."
Repeat.

After a full day and two loads in the dishwasher, I flopped down on the couch exhausted. But then it really was dinner time for the cats and I had to get up again. I really wish that ten million dollars would fall into my lap so I could hire somebody to come in and cook for me.

   
• Visitations! For the first time ever, the number of people visiting my blog on a mobile phone has eclipsed desktop users. Guess I'd better work on a new "responsive" template sooner rather than later. Blogography looks okay on a mobile phone, but it could be friendlier on smaller screens...

The problem is finding time to actually code a new template. The tags and expected behaviors have changed so much since I made the current template that I would have to re-learn Wordpress in order to even begin! That seems like a lot of work.

   
And I guess that's all the bullets I have for this week.

   

Movie News Musings

Posted on Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Dave!Well this sucks.

In what can only be described as a shit-storm of awfulness, Hollywood has dropped two pieces of horrifically bad news on movie lovers today.

First of all, Sony and Marvel Studios can't come to an agreement over Spider-Man, so the character will no longer be appearing in Marvel Studios movies. This is unbelievably shitty, because he's become such a big part of them. Can you imagine Infinity War without Spider-Man? I sure can't. And then there's the beautiful and effortless integration of Tony Stark into the Spider-Man cinematic mythos. The new Spider-Man is heavily rooted in the MCU, and all that is going to have to be ripped away once he goes solo at Sony again. Poor, stupid Sony, who doesn't want to share future movie grosses after the BILLION DOLLARS that Marvel Studios is responsible for them making (their highest gross for a film ever). And if you thought that Sony wouldn't shit all over its fans like Marvel Studios did with their theatrical re-release of Avengers: Endgame, think again. They're bringing back Spider-Man: Far From Home with four whole minutes of extra footage!

Spider-Man fades away to dust while Tony Stark watches from Avengers: Endgame.

   
Next up? Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are coming back for yet another The Matrix sequel. Now, don't get me wrong, the original film was genius in every way and remains one of my favorite movies of all time... but the sequels were complete and total shit. They were lazy, effects-driven idiocy masking as high-concept art. "GAH! ORACLE, WHAT DO I DO?!?" — "You know what you must do." — "GAH! MORPHEUS, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE, WHAT'S NEO GOING TO DO TO SAVE US?" — "Neo will do that which he must do." — "GAH! MEROVINGIAN, GIVE US THE KEYMAKER TO SAVE US ALL!" — "You see there is only one constant. One universal. It is the only real truth... causality, action, reaction. Cause and effect." — "WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?"

No idea how Neo and Trinity are coming back since they are dead and all... but I'm sure something will be rebooted or turned off and turned back on to make it all possible. Ugh.

Neo is reflected in Morpheus' glasses taking the red pill in a scene from The Matrix.

   
In good movie news?

The 25th James Bond film will be titled No Time To Die, still starring Daniel Craig as God intended. And while it won't be helmed by Danny Boyle as originally planned, it will be directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, which is an interesting choice. He is the guy responsible for the most excellent Sin Nombre and Beasts of No Nation... and also the writer of the highly successful It movie adaptation. Since he's both co-writing and directing the new Bond, I am hopeful we're going to get something interesting and entertaining... more along the lines of the excellent Skyfall as opposed to the mediocre Spectre.

   
And in still more good movie news?

It's already been confirmed that Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Paul Bates, John Amos, Shari Headly, and Louie Anderson will all be reprising their roles in Coming 2 America (sadly Madge Sinclair has passed so we won't have our Queen)... and we know that Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, and Jermaine Fowler will be added. But now we know that Tracy Morgan and Rotimi Boards are also onboard for the Coming to America sequel! Sounds like the cast is on-point, so now we just have to hold our breath for December 18, 2020 to see if the story pans out.

   
And lastly in good movie news?

A new holiday movie, Last Christmas by Emma Thompson and Paul Feig starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michele Yeoh, and Emma Thompson, is hitting theaters this November!

I had no idea this was even in development... let alone ready for release this year! Looks like yet another cheesy Christmas movies I can't live without.

   
Untill next time, true believers...

   

Easy to Learn, Hard to Master

Posted on Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Dave!With the new television season a month away, I'm in an odd position of having very little television to watch. Since I like background noise while I work, this means I've been re-watching shows I like or checking off shows and movies I've been meaning to watch but haven't gotten around to.

One of these being Easy to Learn, Hard to Master: The Fate of Atari which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime...

Easy to Learn, Hard to Master movie poster featuring a graphical spaceship with lasers coming out of the bottom.

This was not the first movie which chronicled the downfall of my video-gaming childhood... there was Atari: Game Over which came out three years before... but Easy to Learn, Hard to Master was the one which had the most interesting assortment of talking heads discussing the rise and fall of Atari in the video game arena. Nolan Bushnell, Al Alcorn, Howard Warshaw, Steve Wozniak, David Crane, and more were all interviewed. It also included insight from Manny Gerard and Ray Kassar from the Warner side of the disaster.

The movie was a good watch, even though I didn't learn anything astonishingly new. Atari's meteoric rise and fall has been commentary fodder for decades and is well-known. It did, however, get me thinking about the whole video game revolution that was my childhood. Along with comic books, the Atari 2600 was probably the most important part of my childhood...

The Atari 2600 Video Game System with controllers!

As I've mentioned before, I coveted the thing from the minute I was aware that it existed. I think it was being sold at Sears, and my non-stop begging eventually wore my parents down. I finally got one for my birthday or for Christmas or something. And from that moment onward... I was playing video games, saving my money for video games, and begging for new video games at every turn.

I amassed quite a collection.*

Well, not really... I managed to get 32 of the 532 games that were available in North America.

Which brings me to my next movie: Nintendo Quest...

Nintendo Quest Movie Poster featuring two guys in a van hopping around North America with NES cartridges flying everywhere.

In this movie, a guy named Jay Bartlett attempted to collect all 687 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games that were released in North America... in 30 days... but without using the internet. Nope, he drove around northern North America trying to find them.

To be honest, I was more than a little bored throughout it. The actual collecting didn't have much going on. It was the stuff in-between than made it worth watching. And remembering back to so many of those awesome NES games!

And my last video game movie? A "mocumentary" film that was clearly trying to be the This Is Spinal Tap for video games called Going for Golden Eye...

Going for Golden Eye Movie Poster featuring video gamers ready for action!

While nowhere near the level of This is Spinal Tap, I thought it was a pretty good effort. It definitely had some funny moments to make it all worthwhile.

And I think I've had my fill of video game movies for a while.

Until the next one comes along, I'd imagine.

   
*And here's the Atari 2600 titles I ended up collecting...

  • Air-Sea Battle
  • Combat
  • Indy 500
  • Star Ship
  • Basketball
  • Breakout
  • Casino
  • Night Driver
  • Superman
  • Bowling
  • Adventure
  • Circus
  • Dodge 'Em
  • Space Invaders
  • Asteroids
  • Missile Command
  • Warlords
  • Bezerk
  • Centipede
  • Defender
  • Haunted House
  • Pac-Man

Third Party Games...

  • Skiing
  • Freeway
  • Kaboom!
  • Stampede
  • Atlantis
  • Chopper Command
  • Demon Attack
  • Frogger
  • Pitfall!
  • River Raid

   

Disney+ at D23 2019

Posted on Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Dave!Disney's annual D23 Expo has begun, and even more news has been released for Disney+, the new streaming service that's packed with all kinds of awesome projects (many of which I've already talked about here). Hilary Duff is coming back as Lizzie McGuire, but Miley Cyrus isn't coming back as Hannah Montana... at least not yet.

As for the other Disney+ news? Let's run that down, shall we?

The Disney D23 Expo Poster with Black Panther, Princess Elsa, R2D2, Woody from Toy Story, and Mickey Mouse.

   
CASSIAN & K-2SO
I actually really liked Rogue One. It felt the more "Star Wars" than we've seen in a while. Now the best part of the entire movie, Cassian and K-2SO, have their own show... which shoots next year. When coupled with the other excellent Star Wars projects in the pipe, Disney+ is essential viewing for fans.

A scene from Star Wars: Rogue One including Cassian and K-2SO.

   
CLONE WARS
The animated Star Wars efforts have been pretty fantastic. Between Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars: Clone Wars, one could argue that the cartoons have done more to keep the spirit of Star Wars alive than any other media. Rebels ended with Season Four. Now Clone Wars is ending with Season Seven.

I have no idea if Disney will develop any new animated shows, but I certainly hope so.

Clone Wars Poster

   
ENCORE
Disney is leveraging their relationship with Kristen Bell from Frozen and Frozen 2 to build a new reality series...

Interesting idea, I guess? But not my cup of tea.

   
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER
The only real news here is that Emily VanCamp is returning to the MCU as Sharon Carter. And oh... some guy named Wyatt Russell is coming onboard to play John Walker, which everybody knows is U.S. Agent formerly Super-Patriot formerly Patriot from the comics.

   
LADY & THE TRAMP
Okay, how cool is it that Disney found rescue dogs to play the lead in their new Disney+ show?

Looks great. Of course I'll be giving it a try...

Poster for Lady and the Tramp.

   
LOKI
It's a "remarkably ambition show" is all the new we got. Alrighty then.

   
THE MANDALORIAN
This is actually looking more Star Wars than the new trilogy of Star Wars sequel trilogy... and a hell of a lot more Star Wars than the shitty Star Wars prequel trilogy...

With Jon Favreau in charge, I would subscribe to Disney+ just to watch this show...

   
MONSTERS AT WORK
I find it a bit odd that there's only one Pixar property being developed for Disney+ (from what they've announced), but at least they picked the right property. The city of Monstropolis is ripe for interesting stories, and the fact that Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back as Mike and Sully is just icing on the cake (after Stitch, Sully is my most favorite Disney character). But the stars of the show will be entirely new characters with the voices of Ben Feldman and Aisha Tyler, which could be interesting. They also announced Pixar's Forky Asks a Question, but it's more a collection of shorts than a series, apparently.

   
MOON KNOGHT
As I've said more than once, this is a no-brainer. I honestly thought it would be a new Netflix show before that development dissolved. Early versions of the character were essentially the Marvel Universe's version of Batman. Later versions of the character gave him multiple personalities and delved more into more mystical aspects of Marc Spector, giving him enhanced strength and other powers based on how full the moon is. Regardless of which way they take things, I am very much interested in seeing what Disney comes up with given that we are promised all the Marvel Disney+ shows will be an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...

Moon Knight Logo

   
MS. MARVEL
In yet another no-brainer, Disney+ is giving us a series featuring the comic book character of Kamala Khan, a shape-shifting super-powered Muslim teen. I love the comic book, and have high hopes that the live-action show will do her justice. I do worry about how well the more goofy aspects of her powers will be translated visually, but it certainly can't be any worse than the horrific job they did with Mr. Fantastic in the awful Fantastic Four movies.

Ms. Marvel Logo

   
MUPPETS NOW
Yeah, I love the idea of Kermit and The Muppets getting a new show, but I do worry about whether or not they will let The Muppets be The Muppets... or whether they'll do something stupid to try and "update" them when nothing like that is desired or required.

Muppets! Animal, Fozzie Bear, Kermit, Ms. Piggy, and Gonzo.

   
NOELLE
What looks like a mediocre Hallmark comedy film revolving around Santa's sister would be a complete throwaway if not for the fact that it stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader.

If nothing else, the leads will make it worth checking out.

Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader dressed in Santa suits.

   
OBI-WAN
Disney says an Obi-Wan Kenobe series has been in development for four years. Which means Disney+ has been in development for more than four years? Really? Well, whatever. All I need to know is that Ewan McGregor is coming back to play the part when it starts shooting next year. One of the few good things to come from the shitty prequels, a series revolving around McGregor's Obi-Wan is good news.

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobe

   
ONE DAY AT DISNEY
The behind-the-scenes at Disney's theme parks must be at least as interesting as the parks themselves. Probably even more so. No idea just how sanitized this three-issue-series will be (my guess: very), but at least we're getting something.

   
PHINEAS AND FERB THE MOVIE: CANDACE AGAINST THE UNIVERSE
While I loved Phones and Ferb when it debuted, it eventually got run into the ground over four seasons. My hope was that maybe they'd spin off Perry the Platypus or something interesting, but perhaps a new film will prove worthwhile if they try to break from the status quo in even a small way.

Phineas and Ferb The Movie logo.

   
SHE-HULK
In the comics, She-Hulk became a much lighter, funnier character than her brooding, tragic, drama-prone cousin Bruce Banner. In the movies they've taken Hulk in a direction more like comic book She-Hulk, which begs the question... what does that leave for the Jennifer Walters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I guess we're going to be finding out now that she's getting her own series.

She-Hulk Logo

   
WANDAVISION
Oh Lord. The inspiration for this series is The Dick van Dyke Show? That sounds absurdly self-defeating, but who knows. They did add Kat Dennings as Darcy (from the Thor movies) and Randall Park (from Ant-Man and The Wasp) so I guess that's something. Except... is Disney+ really going to become a dumping ground for third-tier characters? I mean, sure, I like these characters and it will be nice to see the again... but the choices here are just so random. I guess we'll have to wait and hope.

   
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JEFF GOLDBLUM
The only thing that could be better than Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum would be if Jeff Goldblum were playing The Grand Master (from Thor: Ragnarok) in a new series. So, yeah, Disney can just take my money now.

The World According to Jeff Goldblum poster.

   

Bullet Sunday 626

Posted on Sunday, August 25th, 2019

Dave!Prepare to be launched into a Galaxy far, far away... AGAIN because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• The Halcyon! Disney has been making good use of its acquisitions of Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm. Both have been given major plans outside of movies at this year's D23 Expo. Marvel has brought forth "Avengers Campuses" at Disneylands in California, Paris, and Hong Kong which will have new rides, restaurants, and shops. And then there's Star Wars which has not only resulted in new "lands" in Disneyland and Walt Disney World... but a new "2-Night All-Inclusive Adventure" aboard a spaceship called The Halcyon...

An artists concept for the space ship Halcyon.

It's a brilliant concept. Essentially, it's like stepping onto a Disney cruise ship... and heading into space... without leaving earth. You get into a pod which flies you up to the ship in orbit, then fly around space before returning back to earth. While in space you can visit Star Wars characters and droids, partake in all kinds of activities, and explore the ship for "secrets" (whatever that means). What would be mind-blowing amazing would be if they eventually add a "shore excursion" to some strange world, which would be bonkers mind-blowing cool.

An artists concept for what it's like aboard The Halcyon.

All the cabins have views of outer space, and there's loads of things to see and do onboard. It all sounds amazing. And expensive. I cannot fathom how much it will cost, but I'm betting its thousands for the two nights. Which, sadly, will put it out of reach for most people. Then again, what else is new? But who knows? Maybe if it's successful there will be more of these type "cruises." How long will it be before Universal has a 2-day inclusive experience at Hogwarts for Harry Potter fans with money? And from there it's not much of a leap towards real-life Westworld.

   
• Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow! More news out of D23? Walt Disney World's EPCOT is getting some serious upgrades...

An artist concept of EPCOT showing the Spaceship Earth attraction reflecting all kinds of color.

Aside from the already-announced ride for Guardians of the Galaxy, there are two other things that interest me. First is an attraction for Moana called Journey of Water...

Artists concept of Moana's Journey of Water which shows people walking towards a tropical mountain with a Moana logo on it.

And a new restaurant which is kinda like The Halcyon (above) where you get in a space elevator and eat while orbiting the earth...

Artists concept of a restaurant in space orbiting the earth.

It would seem that competition amongst theme parks is really ramping up. First Universal Studios announces an all new park in Florida, and now all this. Almost makes me wish I was still working in Orlando every year!

   
• A Galaxy Far, Far Away! I fully admit to being entirely underwhelmed by the sequel Star Wars trilogy. Sure it's better than the horrendously shitty prequel trilogy, but that's not saying much. The Force Awakens was okay, but that's likely due to the fact that we hadn't seen anything Star Wars for a while and it had original trilogy characters in it. The Last Jedi was so unimpressive that I had to Google the name because I couldn't even remember it. And now there's The Rise of Skywalker, which will close out the trilogies or trilogies...

Poster for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with Rey and Kylo Ren battling with lightsabers.

Details are scarce. About all we know is that it will have old, unused footage of Carrie Fischer's Princess Leia and has some new characters onboard. Including Jet Troopers (with jet-packs!) and Sith Troopers...

White Jet Trooper and red Sith Trooper armor on display.

About the only thing I'm looking forward to is that it's all finally going to end. At least until David Benioff and Dan Weiss take a Game-Of-Thrones-sized dump on the Star Wars universe when their trilogy comes out. AND the new trilogy by Rian Johnson that's being worked on (apparently Space Leia from The Last Jedi wasn't torture enough?). Ugh. I have Star Wars fatigue and the new projects are years off.

   
• The Last Post! The digital age is a dangerous place. You never know when you're going to be sucked down an internet rabbit hole. I was watching an old episode of the hilarious Coupling when I made the mistake of thinking "I wonder what all the actors are doing now?" Jack Davenport is on the new CBS series Why Women Kill. Sarah Alexander is on Epix's Pennyworth. Richard Coyle has been on Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And Ben Miles has been on a non-stop parade of TV mini-series and series... one of which was called The Last Post which was written by Peter Moffat. Which, oddly enough, appears to be no relation to Steven Moffat, who created Coupling...

A poster for The Last Post showing a military police officer holding on to a beautiful woman in the dessert.

The Last Post is a pretty good show which takes place at a 1960's British Outpost in Aden (which is now in Yemen). It's a time of high tension as the region fights for independence from British rule. The series is not only about the military police in charge of the post, but their wives families as well. If you're bored and like historical drama, you can stream it from Amazon Prime Video. Sadly, no second series is planned.

   
• Cardinal! Another series I discovered by accident is Cardinal, which is currently running on Hulu. The series is an adaptation of the John Cardinal novels by Giles Blunt...

Cardinal poster showing Billy Campbell in a snow parka with his female partner and a police car as a blizzard rages.

John Cardinal is a police detective at Algonquin Bay in Canada. His past is littered with secrets (of course) and he was removed from homicide because he became obsessed with a missing girl. Years later the girl's body turns up and he's put on the case with a new partner who just so happens to be secretly investigating him. Drama ensues. The show stars Billy Campbell, who I never in a million years thought had the depth and nuance he's brought to Cardinal. I've burned through season one... of three... and a fourth season has been commissioned. Worth your time if brooding police dramas are your thing.

   
• A Pox On You! It seems every time I look in on the news, there's another story warning people that they may have been exposed to measles. Earlier in the week it was Vegas (where I just was last week) and now it's Disneyland. And for every one of these stories that comes out, you know there are dozens more places that go unreported. Considering you can die from measles, I guess I'm glad that I had an antibodies test to make sure that my childhood immunizations were still protecting me. This is absolute bullcrap, and I'm fucking livid that this anti-vax nonsense has propagated like it has. Thanks to dumbshits like Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy conning people into thinking that vaccines cause autism despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, heaven only knows which diseases are going to come roaring back. Is polio next?


How is it that the more advanced our science gets the stupider people get? Between anti-vaxers, flat-earthers, climate-change-deniers, and whatever new dumbfuckery is currently making the rounds, humanity might as well pack it in and go extinct.

   
• Michael Davis! I happened across a video of juggling comedian Michael Davis from his appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I had never heard of him, but was surprised at how talented and funny he was, so I tracked down various videos he appeared in. There's some overlap in material, but they all have different stuff and are all fantastic, so I'm sharing them here...




   
And that's all the bullets for this week. See you next Sunday.

   

Suspension of Belief

Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Dave!As I've mentioned more than a few times, I am a huge fan of shitty Hallmark Christmas movies. Never mind that I find romance movies to be horrible entertainment and I don't even celebrate Christmas, there's something about these films that I completely obsess over. I wrote a little bit about it last November. Every year they come out with more and more of the stupid things, despite the fact that they are all pretty much the same exact story. Last year there were 37 (up from 33 in 2017, 28 in 2016, and 21 in 2015)... this year, on the tenth anniversary of Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas there are FORTY of them. And it all begins on October 25th.

Of course I'll be watching every single one of them. It's so easy because I can be multitasking while they're on and never get lost. How could I? They're all the same.

And it gets worse. For the past month I've been catching up on all the non-Christmas Hallmark movies! And, no worries, there's a shitload of them. Hallmark has seasonal movie events which start with Winterfest in January, then go through Countdown to Valentine's Day, Spring Fling, June Weddings, Summer Nights, Fall Harvest, and then we're right back to Countdown to Christmas again. Lucky for me, all of this stuff is repeated endlessly on The Hallmark Channel in-between reruns of The Golden Girls, Frasier, and The Middle. I've build a master checklist on a huge spreadsheet to keep track.

One thing I've learned in watching all these trash movies is just how huge suspension of disbelief plays in buying into the hilarious storylines that Hallmark writers come up with. Romance in real life is rarely-to-never as adorable as a Hallmark movie. In Hallmark-Land, even the bad parts of the relationships are so cute you want to vomit.

And, believe me folks, I am 100% onboard.

Everybody lives in expensive houses, drives expensive cars, and wears expensive clothes... even when they have a business that's struggling? — Sure.

People fly off the handle and want to break up when they feel they were deceived over some mundane or insignificant plot device that no sane person in love would even worry about? — Okay.

Guys hardly ever act in ways that actual guys act except when it's to portray them as guys who are in need of "fixing?" — Whatever.

Without suspension of disbelief, not a single Hallmark movie would work. They're far worse offenders at defying reality than even the craziest science fiction film.

Except...

Almost every movie has at least one detail that jerks me right out of the story. One thing that's so outlandishly stupid that my brain would have to go past suspension of disbelief and enter suspension of belief territory. Because the only way to buy into it would be to suspend believing that you're not a complete idiot.

Even in the context of a crappy Hallmark movie, it's just so sad and lazy.

A classic example can be found in the movie I was watching last night... Love on the Slopes from Winterfest 2018...

The movie poster for Love on the Slopes showing a pretty couple in winter clothing standing in front of a snow-covered mountain.

It stars Thomas Beaudoin (the guy who melted my ovaries in Hallmark's The Spirit of Christmas) as an extreme sports photographer who dreams of going to Africa to photograph the wildlife there. After getting involved with a journalist looking to write about extreme sports, he's betrayed when it turns out she was writing a story about him all along. So... even though they were totes falling in love, he broke up with her. To make it up to him, she ends up buying him a ticket to Zimbabwe so he can fulfill his dream...

A first class open plane ticket  from Denver to Zimbabwe from the Hallmark movie Love on the Slopes.

Oh please.

First of all, Zimbabwe is an entire country. This "Denver to Zimbabwe" ticket is the equivalent of having a ticket that says "Winnipeg to The United States," like there's only one city with one airport here. The main airport in Zimbabwe is Harare. So even if they didn't want to show ACTUAL AIRPORTS for dramatic effect, they should have had it say "Denver to Harare, Zimbabwe." At least they didn't make it say "Denver to Africa" which is not even a country, people... it's a continent.

Second of all, it's a direct flight. Out of Denver. The biggest hub in Denver is United Airlines. If there was any hope at all that there was a direct flight to "Zimbabwe" from there, it would be on United. Except United doesn't service "Zimbabwe," even via a United-coded partner flight. This means that it's a multi-leg, multi-airline trip and could never appear on a single ticket. You would have at least two stops, minimum, even on a major carrier. You might even have three stops given the destination.

Thirdly, this is an "open" ticket. That's a rare, but entirely valid, type of airline ticket. FOR THE 1980's! The most common ticket today is a roundtrip ticket where the departure and return dates are fixed. Less common is an "open-ended" ticket where the departure date is set, but the return is arranged later. But a full-open ticket? I don't even know how that's possible on a flight now that airlines try to fill every available seat on every flight to maximize profit. Let alone a multi-leg international flight. The cost of such a ticket (IN FIRST CLASS, NEVERTHELESS!) is huge to begin with and, like all destinations, fluctuates based on season. Such an "open" ticket would have to be charged at the highest possible cost to cover any conceivable date. How can a minor story reporter even afford something like this?

Fourthly, what's shown in this stupid movie is a boarding pass. You can't get a fucking boarding pass until you've checked in for your flight. You REALLY can't get a boarding pass on an open ticket where you don't even have a date of travel yet. But it gets stupider... HOW THE FUCK CAN HE HAVE A SEAT ASSIGNMENT WHEN HE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A DATE OF TRAVEL? What is the airline going to do? Keep seat 14A vacant from now until the end of time in case Cole Taylor wants to cash in his ticket that day? And since this trip is three flights minimum, all possible connecting flights have to keep that same seat open as well? What they should have shown was a ticket, not a boarding pass. Except even that's a stretch. Now-a-days you probably wouldn't even get that. The best she could hope for, assuming she could even buy an international "open ticket," would be a receipt.

Fifthly, as if the assigned seat on an open ticket wasn't hilarious enough... they provide a flight number, boarding time, and a gate number. The flight has an IATA code of "DH" which is "Discovery Airways." THEY WERE AN INTER-ISLAND CARRIER OPERATING EXCLUSIVELY IN HAWAII THAT WAS SHUT DOWN AFTER THREE MONTHS BECAUSE IT VIOLATED US LAW! But let's assume that Discovery Airways did, in fact, come back from the dead. Let's further assume they had enough money to purchase a single gate at Denver International Airport. They are assigned Gate C8 which, in itself is bullshit, because DEN only has gates numbered C23 through C50... but let's pretend they were able to pry a single gate away from Southwest, which I think pretty much owns the C Concourse at Denver. Assuming all of that... and further assuming that Discovery Airways has a daily flight operating from Denver to "Zimbabwe"... how in the hell can they guarantee that this flight time will never change? Like... ever? Flight schedules change all the time. Gates are changed all the time. But the most laughable part is that she is counting on Discovery Airways... a dead airline which lasted three months but has been resurrected with absurdly stupid daily flights to "Zimbabwe"... is going to be in business long enough for poor Cole to ever cash this in. Right.

Sixly, boarding pass and ticket "blanks" are often printed in color, yes. But the printers which fill in the blanks are always black ink only (or, more likely, "black" thermal print only). Except here. Where apparently the printer prints in black... AND RED?!? The idiotic seat assignment and "FIRST CLASS" are printed in red. Has the person who designed this prop flown on an airline... like... EVER?!? Have they even seen a boarding pass before? Given that this one is printed on card stock and not some flimsy thermal paper, I'm guessing if they have seen a boarding pass, it was from 20 years ago.

Lastly, this fictional, resurrected dead airline that offers open tickets direct from Denver to "Zimbabe" has a logo... but the NAME of the airline is just "Airlines?" Really? I mean, given the dicey history of Discovery Airways, I understand wanting to go with something different... but Hallmark is so fucking lazy that they couldn't even invent a new name? I'd suggest "Bullshit Airlines." Or perhaps "Fantasy Airlines." Because expecting people to be able to suspend disbelief on an idiotic story element like this is utter fantasy.

Do better, Hallmark! You're already asking a lot of your fans with your movie offerings, but there are some things so over the top stupid that they can't be overlooked.

And can we get a movie starring Autumn Reeser and Thomas Beaudoin together? Because that would be great.

   

Schadenfreude on a Thursday

Posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Dave!I am not one to partake in gossip because I honestly don't care that much about other people's lives. Unless it directly affects me or someone/something I care about, does what other people do in their personal life really matter?

This is not to say that I am above listening to news which features somebody awful having shit rain down upon their head, however. I am all about the schadenfreude to those who deserve it because it usually has such high entertainment value.

In practice, this is not in line with my belief structure, but I am inconsistent and evil that way.

Today I heard something particularly juicy through the grapevine, and it was a doozey. The person in question is a reprehensible excuse for a human being who has caused suffering for people I know, and I was happy to hear that their comeuppance had finally arrived.

"Happy" is actually not adequate to describe my state of mind... perhaps "gleeful" or "ecstatic" would be more accurate? I dunno. I had a smile on my face for most of the evening, so there's that. I mean, it's not that I want this person dead or anything, but knowing that they were having to suffer in a way quite similar to the suffering they had caused was a nice capper to my day.

Another capper to my day?

Netflix finally released their movie Falling Inn Love which has been teased for a while now...

A pile of desserts for one boxes in a wide variety of flavors.

And it's fairly obvious what happened here. Netflix went to MarVista Entertainment, the studio for many of the Hallmark movies, and said "We will give you a budget big enough to out-Hallmark the Hallmark." In their infinite wisdom, MarVista didn't hire famous writers or top-shelf actors... instead they merely took the same old movie they always make and relocated it to New Zealand. Genius! I mean, come on, if it ain't broke, don't fix it... just give it an expensive change of scenery! And also some scenery you won't often find on Hallmark, like some guy with his shirt off...

So far as "Hallmark" movies go, it was pretty good. The actors were all pretty great. But since it's for Netflix, there are some big changes from what you see on everybody's favorite greeting card network. First of all, there's a gay couple who own the local coffee shop. Not "hinted at" gay... but two men who are full-on married and refer to each other as "husbands." Second of all... he's white, she's African Cuban, which is something you rarely see on lily-white Hallmark... and certainly not as the leads. So, from that perspective, Netflix actually HAS out-Hallmarked Hallmark. Good on them.

Now I guess I better watch sports or rebuild a car engine or whatever else I'm supposed to do to assimilate back into our toxic-masculinity-based culture after watching another one of these crap movies.

   

Mufasa, Labor, and Hallmark

Posted on Monday, September 2nd, 2019

Dave!I worked late last night so I could work a half day today. For whatever reason I just wanted a small piece of my Labor Day holiday to have no work involved. The rest of my day was reading and watching the Hallmark Summer Movie Marathon in the hopes that there were movies I hadn't seen yet in the countdown.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My day started with Jake running into my bedroom, dropping Mufasa the Lion on the floor, squawking as loud as he could manage, then running back downstairs to run around with his sister until breakfast.

Since Jenny keeps taking Mufasa away from him and hiding it, I'm guessing that Jake wanted me to watch over his most prized posesstion for him...

Mufasa the small plush toy lion laying on my brown hardwood floor.

Jenny is way more crafty than I am, so that probably wasn't one of Jake's best ideas.

And, yes, I am still on my mission to watch all the Hallmark originals.

The good news is that I was able to check several that I missed off my list. Including my new favorites Love at the Shore and Summer Villa...

   
These two movies aren't just "good for a Hallmark movie," they're good for an actual movie. Well, assuming you like cheesy romance flicks.

And now it's just a matter of waiting for October 25th, which is when all the new Countdown to Christmas movies start up. As I mentioned, this year there are forty of them. FORTY!

   

Bullet Sunday 628

Posted on Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Dave!Summer may be in its last gasp but the weather couldn't be better, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Thunder Rolls. Well, the weather couldn't be better now. Last night was an entirely different story. The thunder was shaking the entire house. The lightning was so bright that it was illuminating everything like it was daytime...

Mufasa the toy lion sitting in my window with a massive bolt of lightning firing behind him, illuminating the entire sky and my bedroom.

Lightning striking a nearby hillside.

Lightning striking a nearby hillside.

The cats were not happy. Jenny came in crying when all the ruckus started. Jake arrived ten minutes later, and I heard him whining all the way up the stairs. I pet them for a while before finally jumping to the window to take photos.

Then today... no clouds and flawless blue skies...

Jenny laying down in the catio squinting because the sunshine is so bright.

Enjoy it while it lasts, pretty girl. Winter is coming.

   
• Baked. September is my most favorite month of the year to bake stuff, and I do so often. Something about the combination of temperature and humidity creates the perfect storm for high-rising, wonderfully-textured bread. Today I made some beautiful bread and amazing hamburger buns...

The most gorgeous loaf of homebaked bread you've ever seen.

The most beautiful pan of homebaked bread you've ever seen.

And, let me tell you... homemade hamburger buns are the best! Tonight's selection was a veggie burger with lemon garlic mayo, dijon mustard, thinly-sliced tomato, and pickle on homemade bun...

My burger dinner.

Pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself.

   
• Very Berry. On Thursday when I dropped by the market to pick up some flour, I saw that strawberry cartons were on sale 2 for $5. I bought them on a whim and have been stressing ever since. Fruit usually goes on sale when it doesn't have much life left, so I've been eating them non-stop so I don't waste my $5. I was eating strawberries morning, noon, and night for two days, but I finally managed to power through. I may be sick of strawberries now, but they were some beautiful berries...

A bowl of beautiful sliced strawberries.

Strawberries sliced on top of a sliced and toasted bagel with cream cheese.

Boy does being single suck when it comes to grocery shopping. I always end up having to buy more than I can eat. The good news is that I'm done with strawberries for the year... just in time for the final summer crop to leave us!

   
• Scary Tech. The trailer for JEXI has been released. It's a comedy exploring what happens when the artificial intelligence on a guy's phone gets a little too smart. It's supposed to be a comedy. But when I watch this trailer I can't help but look at it as a near-future horror story...

I mean, seriously... isn't this the nightmare scenario that's entirely too plausible? Yeah, that's what I thought.

   
• Hellmark. Usually I don't give a crap about somebody's politics. I am easily able to separate an actor from their work, and do so all the time. Democrat? Republican? I'm neither, so I honestly don't care. But there's no way I'm supporting the career of somebody who is in bed with the toxic waste assholes at the Family Research Council like Dean Cain. Guess I'll have to be happy with watching all the Hallmark movies except the handful he appears in.

And speaking of Hallmark, Flip That Romance was finally repeated today...

This movie is genius. IT'S GENIUS! I've been anxiously waiting seeing Flip That Romance since the moment I found out it exists. The film combines two of my favorite things... home renovation shows and Hallmark movies. And it's good! Funny! Hallmark heaven, as it were.

   
• Nonstarter. You know... the more I use my Apple Card, the more I absolutely love it. It's just so absurdly easy and the features are crazy-good. So good. The only problem is that the benefits are total shit. 2% back? 3% on Apple products? So lame. I hope that other credit card companies take note of what Apple is doing and step up their game. Or Apple gets with the program and starts offering 5% back like a real card... even if it's just on Apple products (As it is, it's cheaper to buy Apple products on Amazon with my Amazon Card because I get 5% back on Amazon purchases... what sense does that make?). It will be interesting to see if Apple drives change in the industry like it has for so many other things. I would certainly hope so.

   
Hope your new week is a good one!

   

Bullet Sunday 630

Posted on Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Dave!I can't believe the weekend is already gone! But all is not lost, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• FAKE FOOD! Like many large cities, Tokyo has several districts which specialize in various goods. If you want to see electronics, head to Akihabara. If you want Western fashion and high-end restaurants, you need to go to Ginza. That kind of thing. One of my favorite places to look around is Kappabashi Street, which specializes in restaurant supplies. Pots, pans, dishes, utensils... and a staple of Japanese restaurants... fake food. Because most all restaurants have their windows filled with representations of the dishes they specialize in so people will get their mouths watering and want to come inside. Most of the plastic foods you can buy here in the US are crap, whereas in Japan it's a true artform...

Yes most of the stuff has a bit of a high-gloss sheen to it, but once it's wrapped in plastic to keep it from getting dusty it's pretty darn realistic. The above video is a fascinating look at how it's made.

   
• Goose. After a long time of reading about it being "released in early 2019," Untitled Goose Game is finally here! The object of the game is to be a complete asshole, which is something I can totally do...

I blazed through everything in just one morning, which is disappointing, but it's a pretty fun game otherwise. Nintendo's eShop has it on sale for Switch at 25% off for a limited time.

   
• Drugs are Bad, Mmkay? This commercial where the girl takes off her seatbelt and runs her car into a dumpster so she can get more Vicodin? More disturbing than any horror movie I've ever seen...

   
• X-Pan I had no desire... none at all... to see X-Men: Dark Phoenix. For one thing, it's the capper of a slew of shitty X-movies, after which Marvel will be bringing the X-Men to the MCU and completely rebooting it to (hopefully) something that doesn't suck. So it's essentially a wasted effort and makes no difference. And, if this hilarious "honest trailer" is anything to go by, it's a pile of shit anyway...

Maybe if it shows up on Hulu or HBO or Disney+ or something I'm already paying for, I'll invest my valuable time. But buying or renting it? Not even a little bit.

   
• Name. An interesting article: Names That Are Unfamiliar to You Aren't "Hard," They're "Unpracticed"

My first "real" international trip was to Japan in the late 80's for work. In Japanese, the "V" in my name doesn't exist as a sound. The closest they have is a "B." And yet they made an effort to say the "V" as best they could, even though it was a struggle and unnatural for them. That kindness has never left me, and I feel incredibly blessed that I learned how important a name can be so early in my travels. Which is why I try my very best to listen when I hear names and put my every best effort into pronouncing them correctly.

So many times I've had co-workers, friends, and people I meet who have "difficult for English speakers to pronounce" names who will say their name... then follow it with "But you can call me..." and give either a completely different "English" name... or some butchered version of their name. Whenever I can, I've asked about their actual name, worked with them to get an acceptable pronunciation, then ask if they mind that I use their real name. And the result is always the same appreciation that I felt that first trip to Japan so many years ago.

Your name... whether it's yours by birth or the name you've chosen for yourself... is key to your identity. Endeavoring to respect a person's name by listening, working to pronounce it, and saying it with your best effort, is such a small thing, really. But it means so much.

   
• Emmys. I do not watch the Emmys. The television I like is rarely represented, so I just don't bother. That being said, I do read the results the next day and have some thoughts...

  • DRAMA: The fact that Game of Thrones can take the big prize seems odd given what a pile of shit the final season ended up being, but okay.
  • SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA: That being said, Peter Dinklage 100% earned that Emmy for his performance in the final season. He elevates any material to new levels, and this was no difference.
  • LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA: This was kind of an absurd category because winner Billy Porter from Pose was about the only one who I felt deserved it. Maybe Jason Bateman from Ozark, but Billy owned this and I'm glad he won.
  • COMEDY: I would have taken Fleabag, Barry, Russian Doll, or Schitt's Creek... but was secretly hoping for Schitt's Creek. Yet... not the least bit upset that Fleabag took the prize.
  • VARIETY: I am really torn here. Yes, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver deserves tons of recognition. But overlooking The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is really a tough pill to swallow. Trevor is killing it every night.
  • LIMITED: I would have liked if When They See Us won because A) It deserves awards, and B) It deserves attention. But Chernobyl was incredible. So good. I ended up watching it all the way through twice because it's such a powerful story.
  • DIRECTING: That being said, Ava DuVernay should have gotten the Emmy for best director when it came to When They See Us. Oh well.
  • COMPETITION: I was very happy to hear that RuPaul's Drag Race won this. It is, by far, the most entertaining of all the nominations.
  • LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY: While I would love for Catherine O'Hara and Natasha Lyonne to get recognition for the incredible work they do, Phoebe Waller-Bridge earned this one for Fleabag.
  • LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY: I'm thrilled that Bill Hader took the Emmy for his work on Barry! The show is 100% bananas in the best possible way, and his work there is just above and beyond.
  • SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY: I simply do not get the appeal of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as I find it neither funny nor entertaining. But Alex Borstein definitely does a fantastic job in the show, so I'm kinda torn on this one. I would have preferred that Kate McKinnon won for Saturday Night Live, however.

   
• SNUBBED! A few nominations that should have been made...

  • Ricky Gervais for acting and/or writing After Life. I am still a bit shocked he got no recognition at all for this one.
  • Tracy Morgan for The Last O.G.. That show is hilarious, and his performance is fantastic. For either to get some recognition is not out of left-field.
  • While I'm not sure The Good Place deserved all the nominations it got, I am sure that D’Arcy Carden should have gotten nominated for Supporting Actress, Comedy... AND WON IT. This is criminal.

   

And... I'm spent. See you in a week with more bullets.

   

Bullet Sunday 631

Posted on Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Dave!Snow may have arrived but the internets are toasty warm, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• THE END? Years ago I told myself I'd stop blogging after 5,000 posts. Earlier this week I thought to look and see how close I am to that. I've posted 6,124 posts. And so... I guess I'm stopping at 10,000 then. You're welcome!

   
• Spidey! So maybe Sony isn't filled with buckets of dumbass after all. It was announced earlier this week that Marvel and Sony have come to an agreement for another Spider-Man film to be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given how FREAKIN' AMAZING a job Marvel has done with the character, AT LAST!, I'm unapologetically enthusiastic...

Tom Holland as Spider-Man

Apparently the deal may include bringing more Spider-Man-based characters than just Spider-Man. A part of me wonders if that's a good thing. But if anybody can figure out how to make it work, that would be Marvel.

   
• Stumptown! And... just like that, I have a new favorite show. Cobie is absolutely 100% bad-ass in every frame of Stumptown and I love it. You can watch the first episode on the ABC app for free without an account. I suggest you do...

Based on the comic book of the same name, it's remarkably faithful while changing enough to make darn good television. And, as if that wasn't good enough, it features a cast with Jake Johnson! Michael Ealy! Tantoo Cardinal! Camryn Manheim! They pulled out all the stops in casting this show. Top shelf all around!

   
• Flerfer Dumbassery! "IF THE EARTH IS ROUND AND SPINNING AT 1000mph, THEN WHY DON'T I GO FLYING OFF WHEN I JUMP UP IN THE AIR?!? THE EARTH MUST BE FLAT IF WE CAN JUMP UP AND DOWN WITHOUT MOVING!!!" — GAAAAAAAHHHH!!! IT'S SCIENCE, BITCH!

Literally EVERY SINGLE THING that dumbass flat earthers come up with as a reason that globe-earth cannot exist can be refuted with science. Not that that's going to stop anything. Dumbassery is contagious.

   
• Assholes! NEWSFLASH: Every word Ajit Pai says about Net Neutrality is a lie, including "and" and "the." — Well no shit! Ajit Pai only cares about the Telco lobbyist dicks he has been sucking. He's never given a crap about American consumers. Not even a tiny pebble shit. It's assholes like this who should be strung up and shot for selling out the country. Just like the rest of President Trump's administration of assholes.

   
• TV! I hate to say it, but here it goes... APPLE'S TV APP FOR MaCOS X IS A STEAMING PILE OF SHIT AND I AM FUCKING EMBARRASSED FOR THE ENTIRE COMPANY FOR RELEASING IT! It's comically inept, buggy, and stupid... and once again has me regretting that I ever bought into Apple's media ecosystem. First of all, it's a crappy experience. You never know what's clickable because the cursor never changes. And when something is clickable, you don't know if your click is registered because the button state doesn't change and there's no feedback whatsoever. This means that you end up clicking again and again and again because you don't know if anything is happening. And the app is so fucking slow that it takes forever to acknowledge when something does happen. Apple essentially developed the modern home computer interface. And they are destroying their legacy with this bullshit. And it just gets worse. Have tons of purchases in your library? Hope you like scrolling! There is NO FUCKING SHORTCUT to get to what you need to be! Want to watch those Magnum P.I.? episodes you purchased? Typing "M" to get there does NOTHING! Just scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll.

Second of all, it's hard to search for the stuff you want to buy. You type in the search box and often times get random shit for an explicit search term. Then, assuming you do all kinds of acrobatics and manage to navigate to what you want, actually buying something is a joke. It's all a bunch of clicking and clicking and clicking because you have no fucking idea if you actually bought it or not because there's no acknowledgement until an email receipt arrives. AND THEN once you finally manage to buy something, IT DOESN'T SHOW UP IN YOUR LIBRARY UNTIL YOU QUIT THE APP AND START IT UP AGAIN?!? Oh... and when you DO quit and restart? It doesn't remember where you were, so you have to navigate back there again.

This is insanity, and I cannot fucking believe that Apple actually let this shit go out of beta. Assuming they even bothered to beta test it at all. I never thought I'd be longing for the original iTunes to come back, but here we are. Fuck you, Apple.

   
See You Next Sunday!

   

Bullet Sunday 632

Posted on Sunday, October 6th, 2019

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

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

Tom Holland in his Spider-Man costume.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

Humidity for Days

Posted on Friday, October 11th, 2019

Dave!Sometimes having a house that's smarter than you are is a real pain in the ass.

As I mentioned yesterday, my "smart home" keeps nagging me that the humidity is low, but I've been too busy to move all the tools and junk that are piled in front of the whole-home humidifier so I can turn it on. Then come the afternoon my house got even more freaked out about its precious moisture levels and was all "ZOMG! I'M AT 22% AND I SHOULD BE AT 36%! DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS HUMIDITY ALREADY!!!" And so I moved just enough crap that I could use a stick to poke the "on" button...

Thanks to the steam that immediately started blowing through my vents, the humidity reached acceptable levels in just four hours. And now my house is happily maintaining the humidity it wants and no longer bothering me...

I left work early today to take down my DirecTV satellite dish, patch the holes, paint over the holes, cut down the flowers and trim the shrubs, clean the security cameras, disassemble the Liter-Robots for cleaning, hose out the catio, bake bread, clean the guest room, wash clothes, steam clean the cat feeding station, make a grocery list, wash out the garbage and recycle bins, dig for winter clothes I can donate, clean out my tool boxes, and gather books for the library book sale.

Instead I took down the DirecTV dish, filled the holes... then watched El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on Netflix. Not long after, I heard that Robert Forster, who appears in El Camino, had died. He's had many notable roles but my all-time favorite is in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, where he's fantastic at conveying so much without even saying a word...

Amazing. And now I have to go watch that movie for the 100th time. Rest in peace, sir. You will be missed.

BUT BEFORE WE GO...

Though I would take Elizabeth Warren over President Trump (hell, I'd pick Pee-Wee Herman over President Trump)... I don't know that I would want her as President of the United States. But then I see how deftly she handles homophobic bigotry, and have to wonder if she might be the person for the job...

Kinda the perfect video to land on National Coming Out Day, isn't it?

   

Bullet Sunday 633

Posted on Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Dave!I've been catching up with preparing my home for winter this weekend, but I had to make time for blogging, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Compare. I am putting this video here because I just can't believe it exists. Arun Maini (who has a great YouTube Channel) compared all the iPhones ever made for quality and features, plus showed and unboxing of each as well...

One of the most shocking parts of this video is the end where he compares the cameras. I maintain that the camera in the new iPhone 11 Pro may be the best camera I've ever owned. No, it can't really compare my Sony DSLR... but, in some ways, it actually eclipses it. First of all, it fits in my pocket and is with me at all times. Second of all, it has capabilities you could only get from a device with a massively powerful computer in it... like Night Mode and the forthcoming Deep Fusion. Aside from all that, it's just capable of taking amazing, amazing photos.

Of course the biggest shock is the benchmark escalation...

All the iPhone models lined up with their benchmark scores overlayed... starting with the original with a score of 710 all the way up to the iPhone 11 Pro with a score of 699,988!

I mean... wow. As an aside here, I've owned the following: 2G (The Original), 3G, 4, 5, 6, 7, X, XS, and 11 Pro...

All my iPhone boxes lined up on a table... with the exception of iPhone 7.

I kept all the boxes (except I can't find the box for 7). I think the only actual phone I kept was the 5 (it's in the shadows up there in the corner) because I loved the look of it so much (the 4 is a close second). I also have a 2G Original around here somewhere. The other phones I donated because the trade-in value is always worth less to me than helping somebody out... or, as of the iPhone X, I returned it to Apple as part of their iPhone Upgrade Program.

   
• Vieux Carré. They are building a Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans at the Northeastern corner of The French Quarter. I was staying just around the corner from the construction site, and walked by while I was there to check things out. Unfortunately I couldn't see much... and, even more unfortunately, there was a horrific accident which has left two workers dead and one still missing...

As the push to get things done ever cheaper and faster escalates, worker safety seems to be pushed aside. I sincerely hope that's not the case here.

   
• GROUCH. I do not care how many accolades that the Joker movie gets... I have zero interest in seeing it. The "real" Joker was a career criminal who was driven insane when he dropped in a vat of chemicals. The key takeaway being that he was always a criminal. In this new movie, Joker becomes a criminal due to mental illness, and I'm not here for it. The film is a completely unnecessary revision that simply doesn't interest me. Maybe one day when it's free on HBO or whatever, I'll give it a try out of boredom... but I'm not rushing to the theater to see it. Last night on SNL, there was a parody for Oscar the Grouch which brilliantly captures how I view Joker...

Perfect. THIS IS PERFECT!

   
• Three. It came out a short while back that Kevin Smith had finally manages to get Jeff Anderson onboard for Clerks 3. He had written a script ages ago, but Jeff didn't want to do it. Apparently after some discussion, Smith decided to write an all new script inspired by his heart attack that Anderson could get onboard with. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic...

Kevin Smith has made some of the favorite films. He kinda lost me when he took a detour into Cop Out, Red State, Tusk, and Yoga Hosers... but the idea of getting another Jay & Silent Bob movie this month followed by another Clerks? Too good to be true.

   
• Vileness. You will be absolutely amazed what Portuguese street artist, Vile, can do with cans of spray paint...

Tom Holland in his Spider-Man costume.

Check out the story over at My Modern Met for more of his mind-blowing graffiti art.

   
• Apple and TV. I absolutely loathe the way Apple handles the video media they peddle. They charge more money than any other provider to sell you something you are forced to watch with their shitty, shitty apps. AppleTV is a grotesque mockery of interface design that barely works. The iPhone and iPad apps are missing so many critical features (LIKE SORTING YOUR HUNDREDS OF PURCHASES) that they're a heinous burden to use. And now there's the TV app for my Mac that came with their new Catalina MacOS. It is the very definition of crap. I never thought I'd be longing to go back to iTunes, but at least it was functional. The TV app is fucking garbage. They regularly send you to places that have no content... THEN DON'T GIVE YOU A FUCKING "BACK" BUTTON TO GO BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE!

And just try searching for stuff you want to buy. I dare you. I double dare you. I am so fucking embarrassed for Apple that I feel like vomiting. And if Steve Jobs were alive today he'd probably burn the company to the ground. After he strangles all the dumbasses who thought that "butterfly" keyboards in MacBooks was a good idea.

   
• Stellar. Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is a movie that I didn't like at first but, as time went on and I gave it another chance, I came to appreciate it as pretty good sci-fi. The high-concept science behind it is fascinating. Yes, the way that Nolan tried to inject "humanity" into it was a kludge, but it's still an entertaining story. And while I found everything pretty straightforward (despite some glaring plot holes), I found this cool (spoiler-filled) graphic which explains the time shifts in a great way...

The complex timeline of the movie Interstellar showing all the characters and their journey through the film.
Click image to embiggen.

Of course I ended up watching the movie again last night just to follow along. I like it even better the third time through.

   
See you next Sunday, buckaroos.

   

Bullet Sunday 634

Posted on Sunday, October 20th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a cool guy!

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

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

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

   
And... scene. Have a good week!

   

Skywalking to the Finish Line

Posted on Monday, October 21st, 2019

Dave!And lo after these many months, the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been released.

This is supposed to be the final movie in a trilogy of trilogies which follows the story of the Skywalkers from Anakin to Luke to... Rey? Perhaps? I mean, Anakin and Luke are dead, so if Skywalker is going to do any "rising" it will have to come from somebody else, assuming they don't come back from the dead. And what else is there? Just Rey. But wouldn't it be funny if it were Rose Tico?

I dunno about the story... I haven't been terribly impressed with what we've gotten so far... but boy do the special effects look amazing! I'm guessing that there will be a space battle to end all space battles, and that will be alright with me. It's why I keep going to these things, to be honest.

The best I can hope for is that this will land somewhere above Star Wars: The Force Awaken but, let's face it, that might be a bit of a stretch when they're going to be focusing on wrapping up everything...

Star Wars Movies Ranking

Guess we'll find out in December.

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Dia de los Muertos y Coco

Posted on Friday, November 1st, 2019

Dave!The commercialization of a people's traditions and culture is a practice which fascinates me. Partly because those traditions are usually sanitized for those who would never make even the slightest effort to understand their origins. But mostly because it creates this disgusting mingling of cultural identity blending with people who loathe those behind the culture. The same people who proudly hate immigrants are the same people who love eating a burrito while chugging $5 margaritas at a bar on Cinco de Mayo. The same people who laugh at the plight of our neighbors to the South trying to escape horrific violence are the same people who get sugar skull tattoos and decorate their homes for the Day of the Dead.

Which is "Dia de los Muertos."

Which is today.

Kinda.

Generally speaking the Day of the Dead is actually a three-day holiday. It begins on All Hallows Eve (October 31) when altars are built to invite the spirits of dead children to visit. On All Saints Day (November 1) spirits of dead adults are invited to visit...

A frame from the animated masterpiece COCO from Disney Pixar showing a colorful altar decorated with marigold flowers, candles, and photos of the dead while a grandmother is explaining it to her grandson Miguel.

Then it all culminates on All-Souls Day (November 2) when the spirits of relatives are honored by visiting their gravesites to light incense and decorate them with marigolds, skeletons, calavera de azucar (sugar-skulls), and all kinds of other decorations and offerings... including the departed's favorite foods and drinks or, in the case of children, their favorite toys...

A frame from the animated masterpiece COCO from Disney Pixar showing skeletal spirits visiting a decorated cemetery while people are praying at a gravesite in the foreground.

I say "general speaking" because Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in many different ways... even between regions of a single country like Mexico where it is a national holiday. Here in the USA there are, of course, traditional celebrations in our Hispanic communities. Everywhere else, Mexican and Latin American bars and restaurants use it as a way to promote their businesses. And, naturally, there are those who just think that sugar-skulls look cool so they display them on their dashboard or on their mantle for exotically fun decorations.

And then there are the cultural-appropriation-for-profit endeavors which actually do try to honor the traditions on which the original culture was built so they can enlighten and educate. Take for example the 2017 Pixar film Coco which is a beautifully animated movie that uses Dia de los Muertos as inspiration for both its story and visuals (it's where the stills above come from). This is a jaw-dropping, gorgeous film with a heartwarming message that works very hard to honor rather than exploit the culture which is responsible for it...

This is not to say that there are not those who would believe that Coco is a prime example of exploitation of a people by a mega-corporation that is appropriating their culture for money... and that's a valid assessment. But there are also those who see the film as a celebration of their culture, and are happy that their traditions are being represented and given visibility so beautifully. This piece on the reaction of indigenous peoples of Oaxaca watching Coco (many of whom had never been to a theater before) is wonderful to see.

As somebody who is not native to Dia de los Muertos, has never had it be a part of their culture, and knew almost nothing about it aside from seeing sugar skull tattoos on Ink Master, I was grateful to Disney/Pixar for educating me about the Day of the Dead. It's thanks to Coco that I took the time to read up on the holiday by those whose culture is responsible for it. And after educating myself I was able to truly appreciate what a beautiful celebration it is. Not necessarily for the dead... but for the living who keep their spirit and memory alive.

If you haven't seen Coco yet, this weekend would be the perfect time to remedy that. And if you have? It's a great time to watch it again. I know I will be!

   

Avengers: Damage Control

Posted on Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

Dave!Well that was fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here comes Ultra-Ultron!

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

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

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

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

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

   

Bullet Sunday 637

Posted on Sunday, November 10th, 2019

Dave!Hallmark Channel Christmas is in full swing this Sunday, but I'm making time for blogging anyway, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• OctoCup. I don’t know whether to be happy... or bust out crying because of how we’re destroying this planet with our filth...

Probably both. Poor creatures of earth. Fuck the climate change debate... clean up the planet because we have a moral reponsibility to do so. Humans are not the only thing living here.

   
• Madalorian. By and large, I've been disappointed with the post-Star Wars offerings. The prequel trilogy was utter crap. The sequel trilogy is lacking. Solo was okay, but not a homerun. And while I did love Rogue One for being the most Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back, it had serious story issues. The final movie in the trilogy of trilogies, Rise of Skywalker arrives in December and looks like it will be a delicious special-effects spectacle. But what I'm really forward to? Jon Favre and Pedro Pascal's The Mandalorian coming to Disney+ on Tuesday...

Boy does that look good. Firmly set in the Star Wars Universe, but giving us something new outside of what the past films are mired in. I sure hope it lives up to the hype.

   
• AT&T Nickel Diming. Upgrading my iPhone through the Apple Upgrade Program was a mess. Worthy of an entire blog post when I have time to document the horror I went through with Apple. Turns out that the fun was just beginning because when I got my AT&T bill, there was a $30 upgrade fee on it. Even though AT&T didn't do a damn thing. The process of activating and transferring my phone was entirely automated and done by me! This is just another case of AT&T squeezing money out of their customers by nickel-and-diming them to death. When I called AT&T to ask them what in the hell they did to merit a $30 charge, their answer was... all the carriers do it. Which may be true. But AT&T costs considerably more than other carriers. And so... time to investigate a possible change. Free HBO that's a massive pain-in-the-ass to activate via AT&T's pitiful AT&T TV Now service (formerly DirecTV Now) is not worth it. Not by a damn sight. And they're dishonest assholes who still charge you full price, even when they are blacking out channels and not paying for them.

   
• Rank. Step One of getting rid of our fatally-flawed and totally shitty two-party system stranglehold is adopting ranked-choice voting. And... oh my.. here is something interesting.

   
• Padded. I have been attempting to use the new Adobe Photoshop on iPad. Except, despite it's name, it is NOT Adobe Photoshop. Not even remotely close to Photoshop. Of course I knew that there were going to be sacrifices (especially in the beginning), but this pathetic effort is so feature anemic as to be laughable. For one thing... no resizing or crop tools. I mean, sure there's a "crop tool" but you can't set a dimension. Your only choice is to "lock current ratio." THAT'S IT! Need a certain size? Fuck you. Need a certain resolution? Fuck you. Need a certain ratio? Fuck you. And... oh yeah... the crop tool doesn't snap to edges! What a fucking joke. It's not like I'm upset because I can't use all my filters and am demanding that every possible obscure feature from the desktop Photoshop be added... but holy fucking shit! CROPPING IS A BASIC FEATURE! IT'S NOT EVEN A BASIC FEATURE... IT'S LIKE THE MOST RUDIMENTARY FUNCTION OF AN IMAGE EDITING PROGRAM THERE IS! Pathetic. Can't believe we waited a whole YEAR for this?

   
• Wavy. Boy does this bring back memories of crossing The Drake Passage! I always wondered how they managed to cook on rough seas!

There were two times in crossing that dishes were thrown from our tables. Thrown. Which is why the expedition company I went with have to replace half the dishes every season.

   
• Punch Away. WE LITERALLY FOUGHT A WAR AGAINST THEM!

Hopefully. Hopefully.

   
And now... back to our regularly-scheduled Christmastime programming...

   

Disney+ and a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Posted on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Dave!And so Disney+ is finally here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
And that's it.

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

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

Something went wrong. Please try again.

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

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

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

   

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