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Sowing the Seeds of Love

Posted on August 28th, 2018

Dave!Today after work I ran into The Big City so I could pick up more bird seed. Not that I really have money to be throwing at birds, but they have been so dang entertaining for my cats that I pretty much have to.

Birds are weird in my neck of the woods. During the summer, regular (cheap) bird seed gets me nowhere. The birds that are looking for food are little things and I guess it's just too big for them. And so I buy "nyjer seed" (aka thistle seed) which is tiny stuff that's five times more expensive. In the winter the little birds have gone, and it's only the bigger birds that stick around. That's when I can pull out the cheap stuff and everybody's happy.

I thought I'd be smart and see if the feed store had bulk nyjer. Turns out they did, but at $2.09 a pound, it was actually more expensive than what I can get at Lowe's. My favorite seed is their "Nyjer Plus" which is cut with bits of sunflower seed. The birds don't seem to mind that at all, and it makes less of a mess. Alas, that's almost always out of stock, but today I got lucky...

Nyjer Seed!

Weird how my entire day can be made by bird seed being in-stock at the hardware store, but there you have it. Maybe this is a sign I need to start a new woodworking project? Probably.

The entire time I was looking for bird seed, this was going through my head...

Interesting side-note... apparently we're getting the first new album in 14 years from Tears for Fears this Fall!

One more thing to look forward to...

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Bullet Sunday 476

Posted on August 26th, 2018

Dave!Time to make the donuts... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Mars Investigations! In what can only be described as the best news I've heard all week, Hulu is apparently developing a new 8-episode season of one of my favorite television shows of all time: Veronica Mars...

Veronica Mars

And now I want to watch both television seasons and the movie for the hundredth time.

   
• Globalization! Oh how cool. When you zoom out on Google Maps now, it backs into a globe! No more misrepresenting the size of land masses! Africa is now that massive continent it actually is... whereas the US, Europe, and Greenland are proportionally correct!

Google Maps

This is hugely important. The traditional Mercator projection is a grotesque distortion of the world we inhabit...

If you want to play with The True Size of Things... here's a link for you.

   
• Nothing! Heard Chinatown by Wild Nothing while watching the Netflix Original To All the Boys I've Loved Before (which is excellent) and am now obsessed with it. Such a pretty track...

This track is from their 2010 album Gemini, which sounds like it's straight out of the 80's.

   
• Expertly Paired Cheese! This. Stuff. Is. AMAZING!!! It's awesome on tacos, but I have been putting it on everything. Eggs. Veggie Sausage. Sandwiches. Even STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BAG. Where has this been all my life?

Expertly Paired Cheese

They have a Swiss/Cheddar blend that I'm going to have to try too. Not that I couldn't shred the stuff myself and make my own blends... but convenience!

   
• Enchanting? I was anxiously awaiting the new Matt Groening series from Netflix: Disenchantment. From the looks of things, I was guessing it was Game of Thrones meets The Simpsons...

This week it was finally released and I binged the entire series. It was... okay? The background art is beautiful and full of sight-gags that had me pausing my DVR more often than I care to admit. But the story? It's entertaining. But the funny did not come as often as I was expecting. Every episode seemed a little... slow. Even so, it was clever enough to keep me watching. I was more than a little upset that they ended on a cliffhanger. What if there's no second season to conclude it? Oh well. Wouldn't be the first time a show left me hanging because it was canceled.

   
And... that'll have to be enough bullets for today. See you next Sunday!

   

Science Fiction

Posted on August 23rd, 2018

Dave!Tom Bailey's post Thompson Twins music is a nostalgic tour de force for 80's fans, and I am totally in love with his latest: Science Fiction. Yes, he has never been a lyrical genius as he pulls entire songs from cliches and sometimes feels like he comes up with rhymes just for the sake of rhyming, but there's some terrific stuff here.

The guy definitely knows how to write a hook that slays...

My thoughts on the album...

  1. Science Fiction. This song is actually kind of brilliant. Bailey takes the idea of "The Book of Love" and gives it a twist. The "feel" of the song is 80's but has a modern pop sensibility about it.
  2. What Kind of World. My favorite track off the album. Took me a while to pick "¿En que tipo de mundo vives?" out of the lyrics, but this is everything I could have possibly wanted out of this album.
  3. Shooting Star. Such a pretty track. The guitar accents are great, and Tom's vocals are in fine form. If it weren't for the lush production giving it a modern flair, you'd never know this wasn't recorded circa 1985.
  4. Feels Like Love to Me. This is kind of an odd duck on the album... like it was retro-fitted with a couple lines to make it fit a science fiction theme when it just wasn't necessary. Still, it's a nice song and doesn't really suffer because of it.
  5. Blue. And here's what happens when Bailey just writes a really good song.
  6. If You Need Someone. Musically, this feels like the biggest departure from The Thompson Twins, but lyrically it's probably the closest to a Twins song. Probably why I like it so much.
  7. Ship of Fools. You know an album's good when even its weakest link is still totally listenable. It's catchy as hell and the music is beautiful, yes, but that sea-shanty beginning? Yikes.
  8. Work All Day. This feels very much like a song that could have come from the Twins post-breakup with Joe. It's probably my least favorite song on the album.
  9. Bring Back Yesterday. Feels like a very Beatles-inspired song that's somehow been crossed with a Howard Jones mashup. Don't laugh. I'm totally serious. It's a great track.
  10. Come So Far. This early release (the first release off the album, I think?) had me worried about what we'd be getting off the album. It's a nice song, sure, but it's just not what I was hoping for. That being said, I really do like it in the context of the album. It's the last track, and kind of wraps everything up perfectly.

If you're a Thompson Twins fan, the album is definitely worth a listen.

Less than a month until I see Tom Bailey in concert!

   

Bullet Sunday 475 and Black Panther

Posted on August 19th, 2018

Dave!Attempting to battle my way through the smoke... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Fires! The weather over the mountains was a bit hazy, but the skies were clear much of the time which was a nice change. Looking towards home this morning revealed what was awaiting me. At the top of the pass it was socked in and it never let up all the way home...

Smoke and Fire Summer 2018

Supply trucks are on the road, headed towards the fire front...

Smoke and Fire Summer 2018

And... I'm home. Such as it is...

Smoke and Fire Summer 2018

The largest of the fires, Cougar Creek (currently 36719 acres), is just 16 miles north of me. It's spread a bit since I last checked, but is now 35% contained, which is pretty impressive work by our firefighters considering it was just 5% contained on Monday...

Central Washington Fire Map Summer 2018

Central Washington Fire Map Summer 2018

I guess now is the time we pray for rain. But no lightning, which is what started this fire in the first place.

   
• Entertainment! Turns out the best toy for a cat is still a cardboard box...

Jake and Jenny in a Box

Anything I can do to keep the cats entertained inside the house instead of out in a smokey catio is a good thing.

   
• Soul. Aretha Franklin passed away which means the Queen of Soul has left us. There are many songs she's given us which put her on the throne... but my favorite is her duet with George Michael for I knew You Were Waiting...

Too many classic artists are leaving us too soon. Rest in peace, Miss Franklin.

   
• Bears! This video came across my newsfeed and I had to watch it multiple times...

I always feel bad for animals who have their territory encroached on by humans. The least we can do is let them take a dip in our pools from time to time.

   
• Outrage! Oh... I am outraged alright, Pat. Don't you worry your foolish old head about that.

Lock children in cages and separate them from their parents perhaps never to return because of a line on a map = God's work.

Reading to children = Work of the devil and the end of all humanity.

Just die already you vile, worthless, repugnant piece of shit.

   
• EnChroma! Instead of spending billions on a stupid wall that won't work... and a military parade to compensate for a tiny, tiny penis on a fucking lunatic... why not buy these EnChroma glasses for everybody who needs them? There are literally thousands of things that are a better use for money this country doesn't have...


And yet... here we are. Getting exactly what we deserve.

   
And that's a wrap on bullets for this week. Tune in again in a mere seven days...


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 18: Black Panther
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
"Hey Auntie." =sigh= As I had mentioned, My favorite Marvel heroes have always been Doctor Strange and Black Panther. To get movies this amazing for both characters was a dream come true. Though calling Black Panther "good" is an epic understatement. This film was sublime. Steeped in African culture, we got something truly different than the Western super-hero fare which had come before. The fact that they were so painfully faithful to the source material is just a bonus. It was all here. The vast hidden wealth and mind-boggling technical superiority of Wakanda. The Dora Milaje. Character references old and new. And then they went and made T'Challa into a super-hero James Bond!
   
SCENE TO BEAT: That casino fight and subsequent car chase in South Korea was pretty spectacular.
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Not a dang thing.
   
SIDENOTE: I want sequels to all the Marvel movies. All of them. There is not a single film that's left me thinking "Well, that's enough of that." But when it comes to the sequel I want to see right this minute... it's Black Panther. Things could head in a hundred different directions and almost all of them are going to be fascinating. And then there's the Wakanda outreach program, which has fascinating implications for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Surely another movie is coming soon, right? The first one made like... a billion dollars!

   

Erasure and Captain America: Civil War

Posted on August 14th, 2018

Dave!Today I headed over to Seattle to see Erasure with my long-time internet friends Matt and Scott. It was my third time seeing the band, and Andy and Vince were amazing as ever.

If I had a complaint, it was The Moore Theater Seattle has no air conditioning. I was in the front row and had (relatively) few people next to me and I was dying. Poor Andy Bell was dancing and singing his guts out and I thought he was literally going to die. But he was a total trooper...

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

Erasure Seattle 2018

The set list was as follows...

  1. Oh L'Amour (One of two tracks from Wonderland, their first album)
  2. Ship of Fools (One of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  3. Breathe (One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums, Nightbird... their eleventh)
  4. Just a Little Love (First of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  5. Chains of Love (Second of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  6. Sweet Summer Loving (Second of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  7. Victim of Love (One of two tracks from The Circus, their second album)
  8. Phantom Bride (Third of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)
  9. World Be Gone (Third of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  10. Who Needs Love Like That (Second of two tracks from Wonderland, their first album)
  11. Atomic (a Blondie cover)
  12. Love to Hate You (lone track from Chorus, their fifth album)
  13. Blue Savannah Song (first of two tracks from Wild!, their fourth album)
  14. Drama! (second of two tracks from Wild!, their fourth album)
  15. Love You to the Sky (Fourth of four tracks from their seventeenth and current album, World Be Gone)
  16. Sometimes (Second of two tracks from The Circus, their second album)
  17. Always (lone track from I Say, I Say, I say, their sixth album)
  18. Stop! (from the Crackers International EP... or album 3.5, I guess)
  19. A Little Respect (Fourth of four tracks from The Innocents, their third and most popular album)

They skipped tracks from Erasure (their seventh album), Cowboy (their eighth, and probably my favorite, album), Loveboat (their ninth album), Other People's Songs (their tenth album), Union Street (their twelfth album), Light at the End of the World (their thirteenth album), Tomorrow's World (their fourteenth album), Snow Globe (their fifteenth... a Christmas album), and The Violet Flame (their sixteenth album).

Songs I would have liked to have heard? Heavenly Action, Weight of the World, just about anything from Cowboy plus Don't Say You Love Me, and I Broke It All in Two.

Not that I can really complain though... nineteen awesome songs was above and beyond!

If you ever have a chance to see them live, Erasure is worth the ticket of admission.


Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...

MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 13: Captain America: Civil War Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+ Holy crap... what if Robert Downey Jr. had said no? What would this movie have been then? Chris Evans has made no secret of the fact that he never really wanted to sign on for Captain America because he had his fill of super-hero movies with the two awful Fantastic Four flicks. But he was talked into it, and signed a contract for a set number of appearances as Cap. And that was smart. Get the big money while he could, then move on to the directing career he wanted which would pay a lot less. He later extended his contract to include Avengers 4 when Avengers: Infinity War was split, but it's assumed that's the end of it. What's so cool is that Evans is such a stand-up guy that he agreed to cameo appearances in Thor: The Dark World and Spider-Man: Homecoming outside of his contract. Marvel Studios, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make the most of the original Captain America while they had him, and essentially created another Avengers movie instead of a Cap solo film. Taking the general idea from the comic book event of the same name, Civil War was a way to tear everything apart before bringing it back together again. And they pulled out all the stops doing it. In addition to getting the first appearances of Spider-Man and Black Panther, we also get Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, The Falcon, Agent 13, Ant-Man, War Machine, Hawkeye, The Vision, and Scarlet Witch. When you consider that this could have easily been a movie with Cap as its only hero battling some random villain, that's beyond incredible. It was, of course, just a warm-up. I don't know that this was a better film than Winter Soldier, but it was a comic book fan's ultimate dream movie at the time. It was certainly mine. Kinda still is.
   
SCENE TO BEAT: Wow does Marvel Studios have the whole de-aging thing down! Seeing young Robert Downey Jr. at the front-end of the film was so cool. And it wasn't just for kicks... it actually had real relevance to the story being told. But, of course, the scene to beat would have to be the airport battle. Finally. Finally! After spending most my life waiting for a live-action super-hero battle that wasn't a pile of shit (I'm looking at you, X-Men 3) we got it. It didn't hurt that Spider-Man and Black Panther were in the mix, and absolutely everybody was used to their full potential. Including... Giant Man!
   
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Wanda accidentally blew up part of a building when she levitated an exploding Crossbones who was in the middle of exploding. Sure some people got killed because of her inexperience. But the alternative was a lot more people on the ground getting wiped out? Including Captain America? I don't get how that pertinent fact was never raised in the entirety of the film. It bothers me because it's the whole turning point for The Accords being enacted, and it doesn't really make much sense.
   
SIDENOTE: Still hilarious to see Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei in a movie together again (I'm a big fan of Only You). Red Wing, which was a real-live falcon pal to The Falcon in the comics was made a drone in the movies. Once again we have Marvel being faithful to the source material... just updating it in a way that makes perfect sense! The Incredible Hulk is a movie largely ignored from the Marvel Studios canon, even though it was firmly established to be a part of it. And every once in a while, they drag out General Thunderbolt Ross to remind people of that. This actually makes me happy, because though Mark Ruffalo is better-suited to the role, the hulk movie was not a bad film at all. I expected that there would be a good reason for Thor and The Hulk being left out of Civil War, I just didn't expect it to be as good a reason as we were handed in Thor: Ragnarok. Once again, Marvel Studios knows exactly what they are doing.

   

Bullet Sunday 470

Posted on July 15th, 2018

Dave!We're on fire again and smoke fills the air... but don't despair, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• M-S-G Can You Dig It? Absolutely fascinating...

I don't eat Chinese food hardly at all (it's not very good here, and choices for vegetarians are severely limited)... and yet I've heard the MSG myth forever.

   
• Monkey Business! In case everybody doesn't know... I put the first volume of Bad Monkey Comix up to read online for free. You can take a look by clicking on this image...

Bad Monkey Comics Vol. One Cover

Or you can just click this link!

   
• New MacBooks! Apple's new "Pro" MacBooks once again lacking the ports that "pros" need to actually FUNCTION in their fucking JOBS. Such a crock of shit. DONGLES! DONGLES EVERYWHERE!!!

MacBook Pro 2018

I thought that Apple was supposed to be working with pros to find out what they want in "pro" products? I don't think that's true. Otherwise they wouldn't be sticking with a shallow, shitty keyboard and no standard USB ports. At least you get more than one port now. Still no MagSafe, which sucks.

   
• Science Fact! Tom Bailey's new album, Science Fiction, is here! If you pre-ordered, it has probably arrived (my autographed copy of the deluxe set did!) but you can also listen to it on the usual streaming services. I'm saving my review for another entry, but here's a sneak preview: love it.

   
• Be You! Oh noes. Roll up on a woman, call her a slut because of what she is wearing, then think that you can then proceed to slut-shame her into submission? Not. This. Woman. Not today. My guess is not any day...

What absolutely kills me about this is how we rave about "American freedom"... but never seem to back that up. Whether it's telling a Muslim woman she's wearing too much... or telling this woman she's wearing too little... everybody is just DYING to tell OTHER PEOPLE HOW TO LIVE THEIR LIVES. Well fuck that. Live your truth. Be who you are. Defy those who would oppress YOUR FREEDOM by defining what it means for you to be free. So long as you're not endangering others, be free to be you.

   
• Incompetence. I have been trying very hard to keep politics off of Blogography because I don't want it degrading into a comedy of horrors that makes me want to slit my wrists every time I visit my own blog. But things are so bad right now. So bad. And people don't even seem to realize what's happening. The Trump Administration trade fiasco is probably going to damage this country more than anything so far. Companies are already laying off scores of workers because the reciprocal tariffs are making it impossible for them to operate. It's horrendous, and it's just the beginning. From Professor David Honig...

I’m going to get a little wonky and write about Donald Trump and negotiations. For those who don't know, I'm an adjunct professor at Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law and I teach negotiations. Okay, here goes.
   
Trump, as most of us know, is the credited author of The Art of the Deal, a book that was actually ghost written by a man named Tony Schwartz, who was given access to Trump and wrote based upon his observations. If you've read The Art of the Deal, or if you've followed Trump lately, you'll know, even if you didn't know the label, that he sees all dealmaking as what we call "distributive bargaining."
   
Distributive bargaining always has a winner and a loser. It happens when there is a fixed quantity of something and two sides are fighting over how it gets distributed. Think of it as a pie and you're fighting over who gets how many pieces. In Trump's world, the bargaining was for a building, or for construction work, or subcontractors. He perceives a successful bargain as one in which there is a winner and a loser, so if he pays less than the seller wants, he wins. The more he saves the more he wins.
   
The other type of bargaining is called integrative bargaining. In integrative bargaining the two sides don't have a complete conflict of interest, and it is possible to reach mutually beneficial agreements. Think of it, not a single pie to be divided by two hungry people, but as a baker and a caterer negotiating over how many pies will be baked at what prices, and the nature of their ongoing relationship after this one gig is over.
   
The problem with Trump is that he sees only distributive bargaining in an international world that requires integrative bargaining. He can raise tariffs, but so can other countries. He can't demand they not respond. There is no defined end to the negotiation and there is no simple winner and loser. There are always more pies to be baked. Further, negotiations aren't binary. China's choices aren't (a) buy soybeans from US farmers, or (b) don't buy soybeans. They can also (c) buy soybeans from Russia, or Argentina, or Brazil, or Canada, etc. That completely strips the distributive bargainer of his power to win or lose, to control the negotiation.
   
One of the risks of distributive bargaining is bad will. In a one-time distributive bargain, e.g. negotiating with the cabinet maker in your casino about whether you're going to pay his whole bill or demand a discount, you don't have to worry about your ongoing credibility or the next deal. If you do that to the cabinet maker, you can bet he won't agree to do the cabinets in your next casino, and you're going to have to find another cabinet maker.
   
There isn't another Canada.
   
So when you approach international negotiation, in a world as complex as ours, with integrated economies and multiple buyers and sellers, you simply must approach them through integrative bargaining. If you attempt distributive bargaining, success is impossible. And we see that already.
   
Trump has raised tariffs on China. China responded, in addition to raising tariffs on US goods, by dropping all its soybean orders from the US and buying them from Russia. The effect is not only to cause tremendous harm to US farmers, but also to increase Russian revenue, making Russia less susceptible to sanctions and boycotts, increasing its economic and political power in the world, and reducing ours. Trump saw steel and aluminum and thought it would be an easy win, BECAUSE HE SAW ONLY STEEL AND ALUMINUM - HE SEES EVERY NEGOTIATION AS DISTRIBUTIVE. China saw it as integrative, and integrated Russia and its soybean purchase orders into a far more complex negotiation ecosystem.
   
Trump has the same weakness politically. For every winner there must be a loser. And that's just not how politics works, not over the long run.
   
For people who study negotiations, this is incredibly basic stuff, negotiations 101, definitions you learn before you even start talking about styles and tactics. And here's another huge problem for us.
   
Trump is utterly convinced that his experience in a closely held real estate company has prepared him to run a nation, and therefore he rejects the advice of people who spent entire careers studying the nuances of international negotiations and diplomacy. But the leaders on the other side of the table have not eschewed expertise, they have embraced it. And that means they look at Trump and, given his very limited tool chest and his blindly distributive understanding of negotiation, they know exactly what he is going to do and exactly how to respond to it.
   
From a professional negotiation point of view, Trump isn't even bringing checkers to a chess match. He's bringing a quarter that he insists of flipping for heads or tails, while everybody else is studying the chess board to decide whether its better to open with Najdorf or Grünfeld.
   
— David Honig

This level of incompetence when it comes to trade is going to completely and totally fuck us. And make no mistake that we, as a country, are fucked. And this is just trade. We are equally fucked in many other areas. Which leads me to believe that President Trump thinks that the era where America was "great" is The Great Depression.

And don't think that just getting a new president in two years is going to fix the problem. The things that have been screwed up may very well take decades to correct. If they are correctable at all.

   
• Czech! Came home to see Stripes was on this past week. It was at the part where their unit has accidentally crossed the border into Czechoslovakia and so, naturally, they're all going to die. Amazing how international relations have changed within my lifetime. I've been to Czechoslovakia... and China... and Romania... and other countries it was assumed I would never be able to step foot in back in the day...

Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in Srripes

Of course... thanks to the ineptness of the Trump Administration, we may very well be going back to those times, so I guess I'm happy to have enjoyed it while it lasted. Pretty soon the only place that Americans may be able to travel is Russia and North Korea.

   
• Which Brings Us To... So... under President Obama we were the laughing stock of the world you say? What about now, you feckless ridiculous ignorant fuck?

The absurdity of where we are as a country keeps hitting new lows.

   
And, I think that's enough bullets for a smoke-filled Sunday. See you next week!

   

Bullet Sunday 469

Posted on July 8th, 2018

Dave!Everything in the world seems to suck... but life goes on, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Science Fiction! One of my all-time favorite bands is the Thompson Twins. I maintain that Quick Step and Side Kick, Into the Gap, and Here's to Future Days is one of the best trifecta of albums released. Not bad for a band that considered themselves to be a joke. Eventually lead singer and writer for the Twins resurfaced for a series of 80's flashback tours. He ended up having so much fun that he decided to write new material... sticking to the slick hooks and 80's vibe that made his work so popular. And now there's an album coming from Tom Bailey called Science Fiction. If the single What Kind of World is any indication, I'm going to love it...

Only have to wait five more days...

   
• Coaster! That Kayla is a lucky girl...

Who needs Disneyland?

   
• Gaston! And speaking of Disneyland... whomever hired this cast member struck gold...

The rides are cool and all that, but it's the people at Disney that make it theme park magic.

   
• Coaster! And speaking of theme park magic, take a look at this amazing video...

The riders are lucky that the camera and selfie-stick didn't fly out of his hand and kill somebody... but... very cool.

   
• MALKOVICH! How did I miss that Spike Jonze and Jordan Peele accepted a fan theory about a link between Being John Malkovich and Get Out? Then Peele confirmed that he now considers it to be true?

Being John Malkovich

Bizarre! Which is what you'd expect when Being John Malkovich is involved.

   
• NOT MALKOVICH! Now, I hesitate to compare any film to Being John Malkovich, but this sure looks like a contender in the bizarre department...

So cool that there are people trying to do something different in movies... and that there are studios supporting them.

   
• Triple Header! I still have no idea how Luca Stricagnoli does what he does. You'd think that his brain would explode trying to do so many things at once...

Beautiful. Amazing how his interpretation just keeps getting better and more complex as time goes on.

   
And that's all she wrote for bullets this Sunday. See you again in a mere seven days.

   

Bullet Sunday 467

Posted on June 24th, 2018

Dave!Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Go West! And so tonight was the second season finale of HBO's Westworld. After being shocked to my core my the brilliance of the first season, I was really looking forward to what happens next. Unfortunately what happens next has largely been a confusing mess and a disappointment. All sympathy built up for the hosts trying to break free of their endless torture evaporated as psycho-Dolores lowered herself to the level of a human and wholesale slaughtered people by the hundreds...

Psycho Dolores Westworld

But there were bright spots of course. The diversion into Shogunworld was a bit boring, but at least it was different. The return of "Ford" was a welcome treat. And then came episode 8, Kiksuya, which was a totally random departure, but absolutely beautiful to behold...

Akecheta in the Kiksya Episode Westworld

And then there was the finale.

I won't delve too deep into spoilers here for those who haven't seen it. But I will say that this season was a frustrating jumble of timeline jumps that were needlessly complex... and clumsy in execution compared to the first season. The finale didn't do much to make the more esoteric story beats any easier to comprehend, but it did wrap up some critical storylines and toss in enough twists to make me glad I invested my time in watching it. Here's hoping that the third season will try not to go so absurdly meta-philosophical and be more clever than obtuse.

   
• Paul! If you're even a casual fan of The Beatles, this is for you...

If you're a massive fan like me, it's really for you though.

   
• Batfleck! This article about DC's horrible handling of the Affleck Batman era nails it. How can you have a Batman at the end of his career be a part of a larger, continuing story? The Batman that Zack Snyder created makes absolutely no sense for The beginning of a franchise... Affleck or no Affleck... and it drives me crazy that Snyder was so sublimely oblivious to this fact. What? Batman is just going to be this old, broken, sad character on his last legs in every movie from here on out? So stupid. I've waited most of my life for DC characters to come together on the big screen... I've been dreaming about it since the Christopher Reeves' Superman movies... and I'll never forgive Zack Snyder for his heinously bad vision that ruined everything. All he had to do was look at the Bruce Timm animated shows (or decades of actual DC comic books) to see how Batman could work... both alone and in a larger narrative... but he decided to make something totally lame, incoherent, and just plain awful instead. He was the wrong choice for these films from the very start because he had no interest in portraying the characters as they are, but instead wanted to"put his own stamp"on them. And sadly, that's exactly what we got.

   
• Simba? This was made over a year ago. I am just now finding it. High-larious...

Genius!

   
• Fan! Jake was hanging around while I was working in bed. He wanted to be petted, so I obliged for a bit...

Cat Fan-Spreading

Then the temperature started rising so I turned on the ceiling fan...

Cat Fan-Spreading

Jake loves airing out his junk, that's for sure.

   
• Act! Posted for no particular reason...

It's textbook, really.

   
And, on that foreboding note... time to finish up Luke Cage on Netflix! If you're not watching this, it's worth your time. The show is a slow-burn with incredible acting by a cast to die for. If Alfre Woodard doesn't get a truck-full of awards for her amazing work on Luke Cage, there's something wrong.

   

Bullet Sunday 466

Posted on June 17th, 2018

Dave!Time to celebrate all the good that's left in the world, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• The Carters! As if there could be any news bigger than Beyoncé and Jay Z dropping a duet album out of nowhere called Everything Is Love... there's the fact that they shot the first video for the single Apeshit in the frickin' Louvre. I mean, seriously! They rented out THE LOUVRE! Who does that? Who has the money to do that? Beyoncé and Jay Z, that's who...

Amazing stuff. Can't wait to get my hands on the finished album.

   
• Part Two! And so this popped up on the internet last week...

Avengers 4 Sneak Peek

I have some thoughts...

  • Captain Marvel! ZOMG! She looks amazing. Needless to say, I cannot wait for her movie to drop. It will be very interesting to see how she factors into the Marvel Cinematic Universe given her raw power that dwarfs everybody else. One thing is for certain, she's going to be one of the most dynamic visual treats to come along in super-hero movies.
  • The arc they've given Bruce Banner has been an interesting one. At first he could barely control The Hulk and hated the life he lost because of it... then he was near-despair over the destruction caused in South Africa... then he was kind of taken over by The Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok... then he lost The Hulk in Infinity War... and now it looks like he's reached some kind of compromise between himself and The Hulk. It's been a great ride, and I'm worried it might end.
  • How sad is it that Rocket Raccoon is the only Guardian left?
  • Disappointed that there's n representation from Black Panther here. T'Challa may be gone... but Shuri? Okoye?
  • So many questions about Thor and Asgard. Apparently some of them survived. But where does the Thor franchise go from here? Where's Valkyrie?
  • Ant-Man is there. Where's The Wasp? I'm guessing that she is part of the one-half gone, which is a shame. I thought I heard somewhere that she was in this.
  • Hawkeye is here. Odds are very good that some of his family is part of the one-half gone, so he's got serious stakes in this.
  • Odds are incredibly high that this is going to be the final appearance of Steve Rogers as Captain America. To have him go out on a high note, it's almost a given that he's going to sacrifice himself to save the universe. And that's okay... but... is it wrong that I want Nebula to be the one who defeats Thanos? Out of everybody, she deserves it most.
  • Iron Man's armor has evolved to kind of a weird place. The whole "legs merge to jet" thing in Infinity War was a breaking point for me.
  • War Machine, on the other hand, has a more logical progression to his look.
  • Black Widow had better get her own damn movie after all this. Seriously. What character has given more to other characters' films with nothing for themselves? She's woefully underutilized, and a solo movie will help fix that... and hopefully other characters she's supported over the years will support her.

Next up? Ant Man and The Wasp, which looks fantastic.

   
• Super! Here's the thing. With the exception of Wonder Woman, the DC Cinematic Universe has devolved into a heap of shit. Man of Steel... Batman vs. Superman... Suicide Squad... Justice League... they were all heinous crap that ignored huge portions of what makes DC characters so timeless and special. At the other end of the spectrum is the DC Television Universe (or Arrowverse, if you will) which has been killing it. Yes, Legends of Tomorrow has never quite worked... and Arrow has gotten stale... and the overall story arc for The Flash this past season went way too long and was ultimately pretty lame... but then there's Supergirl. It's been so good. And the season finale was no exception...

Supergirl Season Finale

Is it too much to ask that the people in charge of Supergirl give us a Superman show? Preferably a show where the central character STANDS ON THEIR OWN instead of yet another team show? The movie Superman is going nowhere, while Tyler Hoechlin has proven he's the best on-screen Superman since Christopher Reeve....

Supergirl Season Finale

DC should really just expand the Arrowverse into movies that don't suck. Because haven't we suffered enough? All I can hope is that we get another excellent season of SuperGirl. And a first season of Superman. Oh... and I would totally watch a Legion of Super-Heroes show too.

   
• 4K! I fell into a YouTube 4K HDR rabbit hole when I found out that my television can display them. Amazing stuff... even if you can't view 4K HDR. Here are some of my favorites...




But if you can watch 4K HDR on your TV...

   
• Beam! Don't get me wrong, I love my Sonos smart speaker setup, but there are some serious shortfalls that plague the system. Namely... it's stuck in the past. They've been clinging to optical cables for their PlayBar and PlayBase like a dead lemming, despite the fact that everybody else abandoned it a decade ago. And then this past week Sonos released a new product: Beam. Which is essentially a mini PlayBar that costs $399. But the biggest news? It's not using optical cable... it's HDMI ARC. Welcome to the future, Sonos...

Supergirl Season Finale

It's a step in the right direction, but not a very big one. Still no Dolby Atmos or other modern sound technologies have been announced. On the contrary, they say they have no plans for Atmos at all. Instead we're getting IKEA furniture with Sonos built-in. Wheee.

   
Good luck getting Apeshit out of your head this week...

   

Night Cafe

Posted on June 14th, 2018

Dave!Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark has long been one of my favorite bands. During the 80's I was pretty much obsessed with them, and their albums were in frequent rotation (even the much-hated Dazzle Ships). Needless to say, I was pretty upset when the band imploded back in 1988.

Sure Andy McCluskey carried on and released some albums I loved... Sugar Tax, Liberator, and Universal... but it wasn't the same without Paul Humphreys, and it seemed as good a time as any when OMD finally died in 1996.

But then... a miracle.

McCluskey and Humphreys reunited. Then released History of Modern in 2010.

It was amazing and I loved it. The follow-up in 2013, English Electric, was equally good. And while listening to the album this morning I was reminded just how good it was when I got to Night Cafe. Not just for the song... but for the video, which is both remarkable and disturbing in equal measure. It's a song I can't get enough of, and it surprises me just how overlooked a gem it is...

The next album, The Punishment of Luxury came out last year and was pretty great once all the experimental interludes were deleted. But it was no English Electric, despite some pretty great songs...


And so...

Back to life after this OMD musical interlude.

Or maybe just one more song first...

   

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