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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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Bullet Sunday 627

Posted on September 1st, 2019

Dave!Labor Day may be tomorrow but the party starts now, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Hurrican Dorian. The images coming out of the Bahamas have been terrifying. And now parts of the Georgia coast are under mandatory evacuation...

A map shoing category 5 hurrican Dorian off the coast of Florida looking scary.
Map from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Dorian is tied with a hurricane from 1935 for the highest wind speed at landfall... a staggering 185mph. I hope that's the only horrible record that ends up being broken.

   
• Lover! A lovely video for the very pretty title track off of Taylor Swift's latest album...

And I'm not the only fan of the song. Keith Urban did a beautiful cover while performing at the Washington State Fair...

I think 1989 is still my favorite T-Swifty album, but Lover is a close second. Tracks like this make it so. I know I'm late to the party here (1989 was the first time I had even heard of her), but I never cease to be impressed with her talent, wit, charm, and intelligence...

Such a remarkable person. Continued success to you, Miss Swift.

   
• Parade! A true leader celebrates all the people they represent. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes that to heart, as you can see from his taking part in this Pride parade...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marching in a Pride parade with rainbow flags, fun, and confetti.

Meanwhile, our leadership is doing everything they can to strip rights from our citizens. A depressing state of affairs for the so-called "Land of the Free."

   
• Rowl! Exceptional production values, gorgeous cinematography, beautiful costuming, and mind-blowing sets don't mean shit when your story is bloated and boring. It's like they took a 90 minute movie and stretched it out to 8 mind-numbing episodes. That's Carnival Row for you...

A poster for Carnival Row showing an industrial Victorian background with Orlando Bloom in formal wear being confronted by a woman with dragonfly wings hovering before him.

Guillermo del Toro, who was originally going to be working on Carnival Row, dropped out because of his movie obligations. Don't know if it would have made any difference, but his impeccable pacing and storytelling were much needed here. It's like they had the sets and all the costumes and such and wanted to get as much use of them as possible even though there wasn't enough story for that. Pity.

   
• Frexit! NOT AT ALL REDUNDANT! Unless France pulled a Frexit and is no longer a part of Europe?

A brown bag wrapped which says Artisan European Style French Bread on it.

I have yet to try any of that Asian style French bread, but I'm sure it's delicious.

   
• All The Gs! The advent of 5G wireless is going to be a huge game changer once the mesh that's required to have it work seamlessly has been built. That's a long ways away, but it's still an intriguing technology in its infancy. If you don't know what that even is, here's a fantastic video from Marques Brownlee just for you...

Pretty amazing stuff. Imagine having blazing internet available everywhere for all things... and what will come from that.

   
• Another Day, Another Mass Shooting. My first thought used to be "How many people?" But now my response has evolved to "Where did it happen this time?" Once I realized that this was how my brain was wired to react, I was disappointed in myself. It feels dismissive and disrespectful to those who just lost their lives. I could excuse it by saying "There's already been so many people killed, does it really matter how many more are added to the list?" But the answer is "yes." Every fucking one of them matters. It's when we start viewing the deaths as statistics instead of people that we lose ourselves. Unfortunately for all of us, those who can actually do something are long lost already.

I remember when the NRA was for responsible gun ownership and wanted to make sure that guns didn't get into the hands of people who shouldn't have them. I also remember when President Reagan was an advocate for that ideal. This was before the NRA was overtaken by gun manufacturers with lobbyists who buy politicians and give them an agenda to encourage as many gun sales as possible... regardless of consequences.

I support the 2nd Amendment. I also support the right of people to go through life without getting randomly shot by some toxic asshole with a gun. Going back to the original mission of the NRA... gun safety and responsible gun ownership... would go a long way to help these two things coexist. Alas that ship has sailed. We don't even pretend that human lives are more important than gun manufacturer profits anymore. What's worse is that people don't even seem to care.

   
Only 23 days of summer left... make 'em count!

   

Schadenfreude on a Thursday

Posted on August 29th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Another capper to my day?

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

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

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

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

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

   

Suspension of Belief

Posted on August 28th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

Desserts for One

Posted on August 27th, 2019

Dave!I worked so hard for so long to make relationships work, but eventually came to realize that being in a relationship isn't for me. That was a tough realization to come to after spending my entire life convinced I couldn't be complete without somebody else in my life. But I've made my peace with it. Relationships make me happy in the short run, but being single has made me happier in the long run.

Except when grocery shopping.

After my dentist appointment today I went to Petco for kitty litter... to Burger King for an Impossible Whopper... and to Safeway for food.

The problem with shopping for food while single is that it's more expensive than shopping for food with a family (per person). As an example? I need hamburger buns to go with my veggie burgers. Unless I eat veggie burgers every day, I can eat maybe four buns before they go stale. They come in packages of eight. Which means I have to freeze four and they never taste as good after being frozen. Cost for eight buns? $3.49. Or on sale at two for $5. Some stores will let you buy one for $2.50, but most won't. So do I spend an extra $1.50 for a bunch of buns I'll just have to freeze? That's the question I face every time I go shopping. At least buns can be frozen if I decide to go that route... some things cannot.

Like buns for veggie burgers, cream cheese for bagels is another thing that drives me nuts. They are never on sale at the same time. Fortunately cream cheese usually has an expiry date for 6 months, so I can stock up and wait for bagel prices to drop.

But it's not all bad news.

Because of the way my blood sugar spikes, I need to limit carbs. That's tough for a vegetarian, but I do my best and try to plan around it. It's just making choices. Do I want to spread my carbs throughout the day so I can have bread and fruit? Or do I want to splurge on carbs at one meal and go low-carb the rest of the day? If I have pasta for an early dinner (must be eaten before 6 so I have time to burn it off before bed), that means I am having eggs for breakfast and cheese sticks with hummus and veggies for lunch. It's not science, but it works. My doctor is please with my A1C levels, and that's all I need to know.

And while I have gotten rid of a lot of sugar in my diet, I can still enjoy sweets a couple times a week. My favorite is cake, but if I were to make or buy a cake, it would perish long before I got around to eating even a fraction of it.

Fortunately, there are several companies making microwavable "desserts for one" and they're pretty great (also great are break-and-bake cookies, but I wrote about them last week).

And even more fortunately, Safeway had a bunch of them on sale and on closeout...

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

That's enough to last me for the rest of the year (there's 4 per box), and most of them were under $3.00! I prefer the Duncan Hines treats (in the red boxes) because they don't have icing. The Betty Crocker "Mug Treats" do have icing, but I always have to toss it out to save carbs.

No, they're not as fantastic as a real oven-baked cake or muffin, but not having to worry about food waste goes a long way for me.

How sweet.

And another thing that's pretty sweet? The upcoming Disney+ streaming service I've been writing about for weeks!

I don't know if this will help anybody out there, but... if you are planning on signing up for Disney+ and don't care about a bundle with ESPN and Hulu, there's a deal to be had by pre-ordering a membership NOW for when it begins in November.

Disney's official fan club is D23.com and basic membership is free. There are higher tiers with more benefits, but they are not necessary to get this offer. So if you are NOT a member, go sign up for a free membership. If you ARE a member, login and go to the My Account drop-down and choose "View My Account." There you will have the option to buy a 3-year Disney+ membership for $140. That's 33% off the "regular" price...

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

I know three years is a big commitment but, for me, it was a no-brainer. Considering there's exclusive Marvel Studios, Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, and National Geographic content... all of which I love... I was all over it. Sure I don't have $140 to be spending just now, but the offer expires after the weekend and I wasn't going to miss it (that's less than $4 a month!). Hello credit card debt, it's been a long time!

Despite having a bill to pay off, it's nice knowing that I don't have to worry about paying for Disney+ until November of 2022!

   

Bullet Sunday 626

Posted on August 25th, 2019

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

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

An artists concept for the space ship Halcyon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artists concept of a restaurant in space orbiting the earth.

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

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

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

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

White Jet Trooper and red Sith Trooper armor on display.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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




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

   

Disney+ at D23 2019

Posted on August 23rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clone Wars Poster

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

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

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

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

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

Poster for Lady and the Tramp.

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

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

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

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

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

Moon Knight Logo

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

Ms. Marvel Logo

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

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

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

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

Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader dressed in Santa suits.

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

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobe

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

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

Phineas and Ferb The Movie logo.

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

She-Hulk Logo

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

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

The World According to Jeff Goldblum poster.

   

How The Story Changed

Posted on August 19th, 2019

Dave!One of my favorite shows of 2018 was the Magnum P.I. reboot. I didn't care for it at first, but the longer it went on the more I liked it. After the back-half of the season aired this year, it ended up being my favorite show on television.

Part of the reason I resisted it at first was likely because I was a big fan of the original series that starred Tom Selleck from the 1980's...

The series was smart, funny, well-acted, and had beautiful Hawaii as a backdrop. But it was the stories that got me hooked. They usually had good mysteries (especially in the the later seasons) and there was a depth to them which made the show more compelling than your average TV private investigator drama. They tackled subjects which were controversial for the day... including the Vietnam War and its veterans (which included Magnum, Rick, and T.C.). The original Magnum P.I. is where the seeds of my MIA/POW advocacy were planted.

This week I started re-watching the new Magnum P.I. to prepare for the start of the new season on September 27th. Half-way through I decided to watch the first season of the original show.

The differences are pretty glaring, as one would expect.

When it started, the original Magnum P.I. didn't have mobile phones, personal computers, the internet, or any other commonplace consumer technology that we take for granted. This made for some very different stories than those in the new Magnum P.I. where technology permeates every scene. Indeed, almost every episode ends up relying on Juliette Higgins using her Windows Surface computer to perform miracles. It's a crutch, sure, but that's the world we live in.

Kinda.

As usual, the new series takes great liberties with what technology is capable of. Some of it's overblown but possible... like being able to track anybody's mobile phone anytime Magnum wants. Some of it is downright nuts, like Higgins being able to remove a fingerprint with cellophane tape, sticking it to her mobile phone screen, and immediately getting a full dossier on the owner. No doubt about it, stories relying on this kind of science fiction crap are annoying. It's just lazy writing. Fortunately the show has redeeming qualities to push past it. Still, it would be nice if the people working on the show could be clever enough to not rely on lazy writing to create interesting stories.

Maybe they should watch the original show for some pointers?

Or maybe I'm just being too harsh.

It's easy to create a show week after week in a day and age when your characters carry the entire world in their pocket. But it's got to be tough to create different stories week after week when your characters carry the entire world in their pocket.

And the new Magnum P.I. does it by focusing on the characters more than the mystery. The new Higgins isn't just the majordomo of Robin Masters' estate who pops up from time to time to chide Magnum for being Magnum, she's an integral part to the stories and her partnership with Magnum is a huge part of what makes the show work. You're not watching for the mysteries or a single character... it's the entire cast...

The cast of Magnum P.I. with Juliette Higgins, T.C., Magnum, and Rick.
Photo from Entertainment Weekly

In the original show, Magnum's friend at the Honolulu PD was Lt. Tanaka. He was such a minor part of the show that he only appeared in 26 episodes out of 158 and was unceremoniously killed off for no other reason other than he was expendable and it was a plot point for a new murder mystery. That's a considerable contrast from new Magnum's friend at the Honolulu PD, Detective Katsumoto. He's been in every episode since he first appeared and an important part of the series...

Interesting to note that in the first episode, there actually was a Detective Tanaka (played by Sung Kang)... just like in the original show. He was replaced by Katsumoto (Tim Kang) in the third episode. No reason for the cast change was ever given, but I'm guessing it was because they wanted another regular character to add to the mix, and thought Tim Kang was a better fit.

And they didn't stop there... in that same third episode they also introduced the fantastic Amy Hill as Kumu...

My hope is that the new season of Magnum proves that the revival is sustainable. There are only so many times that you can have Higgins tracking somebody by their mobile phone be the reason Magnum is able to catch the bad guys. Even when you have a great cast of characters to camouflage it.

Aloha, internet.

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