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Disney+ and a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Posted on November 12th, 2019

Dave!And so Disney+ is finally here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
And that's it.

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

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

Something went wrong. Please try again.

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

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

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

   

Bullet Sunday 636: Apple TV+ Edition

Posted on November 3rd, 2019

Dave!Worried you don't have time to watch all those new Apple TV shows? Well worry no more, because an all new Very Special Apple TV+ Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Who Dis? And lo did Apple decree that some of their billions of dollars shall be put aside to create their own media, and it was done. And lo did Apple then decree that all new iPhone purchasers would get a year of Apple TV+ for free, and it was done. And since I had a bunch of work to tackle all day yesterday, I just let Apple TV+ shows run while I was working. There are hits and misses, but most of it is just a "why?" situation. There's nothing so revolutionary here that Apple just had to step up with a pile of money to make sure they were seen. It's pretty much just more of the same.

   
The Morning Show. The opening shot of the first episode of this show is Mark Duplass answering his iPhone. The next shot is Steve Carell answering his iPhone. The next is Jennifer Aniston ignoring a call on her iPhone. Reese Witherspoon is too busy putting on eyeliner for me to see her phone, but the guy in back of her in the car has an iPhone. While not unrealistic that absolutely everybody on earth would all own iPhones, it does seem like a ridiculous abundance of product placement and left me wondering if the show was going to revolve around Apple products instead of stories and actors. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. But it was still jarring to see Apple absolutely everywhere when the real world doesn't work like that. And "the real world" is what they're trying to give us: When the co-host of a popular morning news show is fired for sexual misconduct, personal politics and interpersonal relationships are put to the test...

It may be only three episodes so far, but like this show. I like it quite a lot. It's deliciously twisty and appropriately ruthless without being overly-complex, stifling, or boring. The acting talent is impeccable. It's rumored that Aniston and Witherspoon are making TWO MILLION DOLLARS PER EPISODE. This seems wildly excessive. But when they make millions upon millions for movies, that's what it's going to cost to get that kind of talent on your TV show. I'm not saying they're necessarily worth that in the context of The Morning Show, but I will say that they elevate things to a level you probably wouldn't have gotten from many others. And don't discount Steve Carell... his character is equal parts horrifying and charisma, and he's great. Everybody is. That's what $15 million an episode gets you.

   
See. "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." Or is he? Let's assume that I can put aside the complete lapse of logic which permeates this show. Let's further assume that I can overlook the ableist aspects of the concept behind the show. And let's finally assume that I can dismiss the obvious idea that Apple wanted their own Game of Thrones for launch, and See (featuring Khal Drago!) is that show. Assuming all that... and you can... I still couldn't get into this post-apocalyptic show about what happens when most of the population of earth is wiped out, those two million remaining are blinded, centuries afterwards everybody thinks that sight is a myth which is heresy to speak of, and evolution has brought us to a time when some are being born with the ability to... see...

Each episode costs $15 million. The same as being spent on The Morning Show. And yet... for the life of me I cannot figure out where all that money is going. It's just inconceivable to me that I'm looking at $15 million per installment. Maybe if $10 million an episode was going to Alfre Woodard that would explain things. I dunno. What I do know is that I was bored bored bored by the goofy lameness of it all. High concept needs to have high entertainment value. This just... doesn't. From bizarre crap like the queen's unorthodox method of "praying" to the whole "betrayal among us" trope being the entire crux of future hurdles... it's just so tired. I don't hate the show, I just don't know if I will make time to watch future episodes. Maybe if I'm bored and there's nothing else on?

   
For All Mankind. This terrific alternate-history series is just so... pretty. Not just because of the money put into making it look great... but because nothing puts all of humanity into such vivid perspective as our quest to reach the stars. Yes, things start slowing down after the first episode, but it's still pretty good stuff.

I had read nothing about the series, ignored all the "first look" videos, and had no idea what the show was about until I watched. At the time I was anticipating Apple TV+ costing $12.95 a month, so why invest the time in something I won't see? Because of this, the extended opening which defines the entire series took me completely by surprise. In a good way. Hopefully nobody has spoiled it for you, because surprises this finely crafted don't come along that often! For this reason, I am NOT including the advertisement video here. It spoils everything! I'm hopeful this is headed somewhere interesting.

   
Snoopy in Space. I actually liked the computer-rendered Peanuts movie. I found it beautifully rendered and fully faithful to both the comic strip and the animated specials. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Apple's first effort with the property was to be traditionally-animated. Though, from the looks of things, it's not so traditional. It's too fine and too clean and definitely looks digitally drawn. Not a good look...

But the real importance here would be the story. How does it live up to what Charles Shultz created? It doesn't. The plot is that Snoopy dreams of being an astronaut and breaks into NASA's astronaut training program so he can go into space. Since the Peanuts universe doesn't have adults you can understand, there's an absurd and annoyingly emotional computer standing in. What follows is mundane explorations into NASA, the ISS, the moon, and Mars. And it's so awful.

As a lover of the original Peanuts strips... a liker of the original Peanuts television specials... this show fell completely flat for me. It's like they took popular Peanuts elements that people would recognize and jammed them together into a NASA-sponsored docu-series. There's no real charm or genuine humor here and the story is both horrible and boring. Especially if you love Peanuts, in which case it's just insulting.

   
Dickinson. Needless to say, a teen angst reinvention of Emily Dickinson's early life was not going to be my cup of tea. I don't give two shits about that kind of CW crap. And yet... I was genuinely curious to see where Apple would go with this. I'm a fan of Dickinson's poetry and writings, and their nature is ripe for interpreting her life...

Alas, what we got was a complete mess. It's a period piece injected with thumping modern music and familiar modern tropes, but not in a necessarily edgy, interesting, or clever way. Characters use phrases like "I'm pretty psyched about it!" and "Totally!" and "This is bullshit!" which is somehow supposed to be funny or something. What actually was funny was seeing Wiz Khalifa pop up as Death with his magical coach pulled by ghostly fire horses and Jane Krakowski gliding through her every scene as if she's a Jenna Maroney parody of Emily's mom. Everything else fails to hold together. One minute Emily is baking bread for her father as an apology for getting caught sitting in at an all-male lecture on volcanoes at Amherst... the next she's getting fingered by her brother's fiancé as some words from her poem I have never seen "Volcanoes" appear on screen and images of bread baking in a hot oven pop up. It's like they didn't even try. Just one silly, contrived situation after another ("Let's have an opium party so I can hallucinate dancing with a giant talking bee!"). I made it through four episodes... fast forwarded through the last half of the fifth... then skipped to the ninth and tenth just to be done with it. I'm sure there are people who will love this, but it's sure not me.

   
The Elephant Queen. If you've ever seen the show Meerkat Manor which documents the life of meerkats struggling to survive their cruel world, The Elephant Queen will feel a bit familiar. This documentary follows Athena, an African elephant trying to save her heard once they are forced to leave their old watering hole in search of a new one...

Beautiful to look at and nicely narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, this is a wonderful but somewhat superficial film. Sure there's tragedy and death along the way. But no mention of poachers despite that being a serious threat and always topical... I mean, come on, even Disney World managed to add poaching into their Kilimanjaro Safari ride at Animal Kingdom. If there's a negative here, it would be the unnecessary addition of comical sound effects and some clueless music queues. Even so, it's a compelling film that's worth your valuable time.

   
• More to Come... Though Apple doesn't have much content, they seem intent of keeping it coming. Up next are a show by M. Night Shyamalan... a show by Rob McElhennrey and Charlie Day... a show with Octavia Spencer... a show with Chris Evans... more Amazing Stories... more Time Bandits... and, of particularly interest to me, a new series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels. Among others. Odds are, they're going to be fairly watchable given the amount of money and talent Apple is dumping on them. We shall see.

   
And... not a bad start. The only complete misfire was Snoopy (what were they thinking?) and even that might have appeal to some. Whether or not I'll pay $5 a month to keep it going a year from now will entirely depend on what's playing at that time. Another series for The Morning Show would be enough for me to pay a couple months, but I'm guessing Apple will have a lot more in store than just that.

   

Bullet Sunday 635

Posted on October 27th, 2019

Dave!A busy, busy week for me has ended but I'm just getting started, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Monster. I have been toning down the politics on Blogography because it's just so pointless. Unless you are living under a rock, you already know the horrific shit our president is doing, so there's really no need to repeat it here. But lately it's gotten so bad that my disbelief has escalated to a level I didn't even know I had in me. Fortunately John Oliver was back tonight to put one of the most tragically awful events into perspective...

Holy shit.

There really is no bottom. President Trump lives in a fantasy world where everything he does is perfect and everybody loves him for it. Somebody this detached from reality has no business running the country, and I hope that people are really, really scared about what damage could come next.

   
• Idiocity. And speaking of damage, I saw this headline on The Verge yesterday: Donald Trump wants the iPhone home button back. OH FUCK NO! With all due respect Mr. President, go back to using a flip-phone and leave technology advancements to those of us who know how to form complete sentences which people can actually make sense of.

   
• Good. When I was at Uluru (which the colonizers dubbed "Ayer's Rock") in Australia, there was a sign saying that it was a sacred place to the people who own it and they ask you not to climb it... despite there being a chain path to climb it. So I didn't climb it. There were also signs posted at a few points around Uluru asking you not to photograph it at that point because something sacred to people happened there. So I didn't photograph it there. I don't understand why it's so difficult to follow the wishes of the people whose land you are visiting. You're their guests, and should be grateful that they allow you to visit their home at all. I know I sure was...

Uluru at Sunset in Australia.

By banning people from climbing on it after the month is over, Australia is righting a great wrong. I hope people respect the new ban on climbing Uluru and adhere to the Anangu People's request. It literally is the least people can do.

   
• Kangaroo Cats. I ran across an interesting Facebook post this week which was talking about the "primordial pouch" which appears on some cats. I think it’s genetic. Jake and Jenny both have big pouches. When they run, the skin flops back and forth... it’s kinda hilarious, but doesn't seem to bother them at all. For the longest time I just assumed they were mutants. But apparently that's not the case...

Interesting stuff, that evolution!

   
• Rhinos! Will of Burrard-Lucas Photography is the reason I selected the Antarctica tour that I did. His wildlife photography is the most inspiring and beautiful I've ever seen, and getting a behind the scenes look at how he does what he does is about the coolest thing you'll see on YouTube this week...

Thanks to his BeetleCam invention, nobody does wildlife photos like Will Burrard-Lucas. He amazes me with each new book he publishes.

   
• Pepper. You really do learn something new all the time. My homemade pizza sauce recipe calls for green peppers. I don't normally eat them because I prefer the sweeter red peppers, but the recipe tastes so good that I do what is called for. On Tuesday I came home from work and was already too tired to cook... but then realized that I actually needed to clean my kitchen before I could cook. Double the horror. It's while cleaning that I notice something strange... WHAT HAPPENED TO MY GREEN PEPPER?!?

My green pepper in my hand... TURNING ORANGE?!?!

It's then that my Facebook friends had to inform me that green peppers aren't ripe and, like tomatoes, they will turn from green to orange to red as they ripen. I honestly had no idea. Until Tuesday, I truly thought that they were all different species of peppers.

   
• Hallmark Moment. As you can imagine, I am in full-on Hallmark Movie Mode now that their 10th Annual Countdown to Christmas is in effect. I almost never watch live, choosing instead to DVR the movies so I can jet past commercials. But the new movies for 2019 I have been watching live, and this commercial came up...

Well done. Somebody at World Market really knows their Hallmark audience. I don't understand why any company spending the huge amount of money required for a national ad doesn't put this kind of care into creating them. Most ads are just terrible and something you want to skip. Why would you waste money like that?

   
And now... time to wash underwear so I have something clean to wear to work tomorrow. You're welcome, my co-workers.

   

Bullet Sunday 634

Posted on October 20th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a cool guy!

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

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

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

   
And... scene. Have a good week!

   

Bullet Sunday 631

Posted on 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!

   

Cook, Baked, Done

Posted on September 23rd, 2019

Dave!In one of those "I'm surprised but not that surprised" situations, I awoke to the news that Thomas Cook has shuttered operations. If you're in the US, you're probably thinking "You mean those little places at the airport where you can exchange money?" And the answer is... not really. I think money exchange places died over a decade ago when ATMs became universally available. No, the Thomas Cook in this case is the world's oldest travel company. They've been wracked with financial problems for years, hence my lack of surprise...

An announcement from Thomas Cook's Twitter feed saying that they have stopped trading with immediate effect.

   
Well-known in Europe, I've actually used their services couple times, but I've never flown their airline. Sadly, a lot of people do, and they now have no way of getting home. Estimates are at 150,000 people stranded. If this sounds familiar, it's because WOW Airlines shut down back in March which stranded a bunch of people too. Or maybe you're thinking of Primera Air or Germania, both of which shuttered in 2018.

Surprisingly, I've never been in a situation like this.

Sure I've been temporarily stranded several times... mostly due to weather... but not once has the airline said "Sorry, we're closed for business, good luck getting home!"

As I watch the crazy number of reactions on social media... or the pandemonium videos that inevitably pop up from airports... I always try to put myself in the same situation to imagine how I would react.

The answer is inevitably... "Meh."

I'm single and nobody relies on me for anything. Even when my mom was still able to be left alone for a while at home, I could always call one of a half-dozen people to look in on her. Right now I've just got my cats. And so long as I could call a sitter and have them add food to their automated feeder, water to their fountain, and empty the Litter-Robot when it gets full, they're good. Sure work could be a challenge, but I could do most everything remotely for a while.

So, no, I would not be one of those people in the videos screaming "BUT IT'S MY HONEYMOON!" or "WHO WILL FEED MY BABIES?!?" or "I HAD BETTER NOT FUCKING MISS THE SEASON PREMIERE OF MAGNUM, P.I.!"

Well, okay, that last one could be me, because I love that show so much but, even then, so long as I have internet, I can just stream all my shows.

My "plan of action" would likely be to call up a hotel immediately so I had a place to stay, keep calling until I find a room, then head to the nearest bar and get completely shit-faced while I wait for the initial storm to blow over and I can make other travel arrangements. Yay, a vacation!

That being said, I really do sympathize with people who have pressing responsibilities back home... or no room on their credit card to book a hotel and new flights. That would be awful, especially if you're in a foreign country.

And if Magnum P.I. was premiering, which is does in four days on September 27th on CBS!

   

Bullet Sunday 630

Posted on 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 628

Posted on 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!

   

Cleanliness is Next to Nothing

Posted on September 5th, 2019

Dave!Thanks to my two cats, my home will never be impeccably clean. Their fur is everywhere. Their toys are everywhere. Their kitty litter tracks everywhere. And their cat trees are pretty gross. And yet... I do what I can to keep my house as clean as possible. Partly because I don't want it looking like a disaster area when guests drop by unexpectedly. But mostly because I don't want bugs in my house, and I've found constant cleaning goes a long, long way towards keeping them out.

Carl the RoboVac runs every day to keep my floors mostly clean (I vacuum by hand when needed to get the rest). I steam-clean the cat feeding station every week (Jenny makes a bit of a mess when eating wet food because she licks it instead of bites it). I keep countertops clean and my kitchen mopped. I wipe up or vacuum food crumbs whenever I spot them. I scrub everything with a baking soda wash on a rotating schedule. I do whatever I can to keep my home as clean as possible so bugs don't show up. Yes, it's a lot of work, but it's worth it because it actually seems to help. I am lucky to see few insects in my house.

Except...

Lately my cats have been catching giant spiders out in the catio then bringing them inside to play with.

As you can imagine, this has me more than a little freaked out. Nothing quite like spotting something on the floor out of the corner of your eye... going to investigate... then seeing it's a spider that the cats tortured to death.

And here I thought that Jake and Jenny eating bugs out in the catio was the worst thing that could possibly happen. I love my cats more than I know how to adequately express, but this is driving me insane. But what can you do? I refuse to yell at my cats for being cats. When I adopted them to keep my mom company, I knew what I was getting into. Any problems that come out of that decision are my fault, not theirs.

And so... occasional spiders are in my future, I guess.

Meanwhile in TV Land...

Hallmark has finally confirmed their new Christmas movie schedule and I've updated my 2019 movie page so that all forty of them are in my winter television schedule. Hopefully at least half of them are worth a crap. It seems as they increase the number of movies year after year, the overall quality has been declining.

On the bright side, however, this year we're getting A Christmas Love Story starring KRISTIN CHENOWETH and Scott Wolf...

Kristin Chenoweth and Scott Wolf staring into each other's eyes in front of a Christmas tree.

Just when you think that everything that could possibly be said about Christmas from Hallmark has been said... here comes Kristin! So at least one of the movies will be insanely chipper in the way that only Kristin Chenoweth can deliver!

Ho! Ho! Ho! 50 days to go until October 25th...

   

Do You… Sling?

Posted on September 4th, 2019

Dave!Back in July I ditched my satellite television after yet another channel got blacked out (this time it was CBS). I was getting tired of paying for something that I wasn't getting, and was frustrated that cable and satellite companies never give a crap about compensating you... until you threaten to leave. Well, screw that, I was done.

I ended up going the the Sling "Blue" package with the "Lifestyle Extra" package (for Hallmark) and their "Enhanced Virtual DVR" which allows me to fast-forward through commercials.

So... how's that working out for you? you may be asking. Well, I'll tell you how it's been working out...

The Sling Logo in blue and orange.

First of all, the Sling "Enhanced Virtual DVR" is pretty crappy. It's slow, it's clunky, and it even fails from time to time. I'll go to watch something I've recorded on Sling via my AppleTV, get a "Having Problems Streaming This Right Now, Try Later" error message, except it never becomes available. Sometimes I can get it started via their web browser interface, then switch back to AppleTV and get it going... but that's a pain in the ass and it doesn't always work. Even if it did, I still wouldn't be happy. If you delete a show off your DVR, it doesn't disappear immediately. It can take a while. This is confusing when watching a bunch of episodes of the same show you've got stacked up. As if all that wasn't bad enough, the "fast-forward" is complete bullshit. It's not actually "fast-forward," but instead a 30-second jump forward or a 10-second jump backwards. And it can stop working at any time, meaning you have to restart the app in order to get your fast forward back. The web version is even worse... letting you hover over the time bar to pick a spot to jump to... but half the time the time bar doesn't represent the actual show's timeline, so you're perpetually trapped in the first half-hour of a two-hour show and nothing you click gets you to where you want to be. It's incredibly frustrating and desperately needs to be fixed.

On the plus side, I love that I can transition from my downstairs AppleTV to my laptop to my upstairs AppleTV to my phone and pick up where I left off each time (though sometimes it doesn't remember exactly where you were for some reason). This is really convenient. Alas, you have to have a live internet connection and cannot download, but that's the way it goes.

I pre-paid three months of Sling Blue so I could get a free Over-The-Air antennae and control box for my local channels. Alas, I can't pick up a dang thing on it, so I have no local channels. Since Sling offers no other way to get them, you're out of luck unless you buy streaming packages directly from the network. This is unfortunate, but the price of Sling is so nice when compared to what I was paying for satellite that I will still come out way ahead if I pay CBS or ABC or NBC here and there to catch up on the shows I like that they have.

So... to summarize: Happy I got rid of satellite. Happy with Sling pricing. Not happy with Sling DVR (AT ALL). Okay with Sling as an alternative to cable/satellite which has gotten way, way too expensive.

When my three months pre-paid are up, I'm not sure if I will keep going with Sling or give something else a try. Hulu's "Hulu + Live TV" option is a no-go because they don't have Comedy Central or Hallmark. AT&T, Fubo, and YouTube are way too expensive. Philo might be a good option (it's even cheaper than Sling), so I'll definitely be giving them a try.

Or giving up television altogether.

One of those things.

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