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Bullet Sunday 646

Posted on January 19th, 2020

Dave!I'm still sick and dying, but the show must go on, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• HDR. I've had a 4K AppleTV since the day it was released. The 4K part isn't a massive improvement over 1080 because my television isn't big enough (or rather I'm not sitting close enough) for it to make a big difference. When I get up close, fine details do look also nice... especially fine lines like strands of hair and the like. And so I just left the settings to the default of 4K because my TV can do that. Sometimes if it's a really beautiful movie that's being displayed in 4K I'll pull up a chair so I can see all the incredible detail up close. In discussing this, I was told that the default 4K is in Standard Dynamic Range and I should check to see if my television can display High Dynamic Range. A quick look at the specs and... my television CAN display HDR. I thought my AppleTV was already set to HDR, but I went into my AppleTV settings and, sure enough, it was set to SDR instead. So I made a quick comparison by switching back and forth while watching Captain Marvel. SUCH A HUGE DIFFERENCE!

HDR/SDR comparison.

The glow when Captain Marvel uses her powers alone is worth the switch. But where it really makes a difference is in the black levels. Any time people are in shadow you can see much more subtlety in their presence. Even more important, Agent Fury and Maria Rambeau's gorgeous skin tone is far better defined and doesn't get lost when they're in shadow. Just watch the scene where Fury and Carol are washing dishes and you'll see what a difference it makes... far more of a difference than going from 1080 to 4K. Another movie that just luxuriates in HDR? Blade Runner 2049. If you've got a television that can display HDR, then that's the most important setting you can make.

NOTE: The Marvel movies are not... I repeat NOT... in 4K or HDR if you purchase them on iTunes. You have to watch via a different app which has them in Ultra-High-Def HDR. If you purchased with MoviesAnywhere, you're good. The Disney+ app looks like it's HDR, but I haven't done a lot of testing.

NOTE: The "Movies" app on AppleTV stupidly does not seem to tell you when movies are encoded in HDR. You have to look them up on the shitty AppleTV desktop app on a computer to know that. So lame.

NOTE: Just to say... I've been running through the movie purchases I have which are in HDR and the picture quality is stunning. Even movies like Crazy Rich Asians which don't seem like they would be affected have a delicious richness to them. Seriously, wow.

NOTE: After watching a while, I am relatively confident that the AppleTV app for Disney+ is showing 4K HDR. Yay! So even if you only own the crappier iTunes versions, you can still watch in HDR with Disney+, I guess. Boy is Thor: Ragnarok disappointing. I thought once they got to Sakaar the color would be off the hook. Alas, not as often as you'd think, just in certain scenes. But the lightsaber fight in Star Wars: The Force Awakens nice.

   
• Reprisal. I suspended Netflix a couple weeks back, now I've also suspended Hulu so I can reactivate CBS All Access for ten weeks to watch Picard (unless CBS is a total dick and skip weeks like they've done with Discovery, the assholes). For the two days left I've got Hulu I've been watching it non-stop to get my money's worth. The last show I had on my list to watch was Reprisal...

A cross between all those revenge movies and Sons of Anarchy, this show is one of the most drawn-out, uneventful, dull, and overall boring series you'll ever see. Long stretches where absolutely nothing happens. Characters that have loads of screen time yet are somehow one-dimensional. There's also moments of real stupid which pad runtime just because there were ten episodes to fill. And yet... it was a fascinating, stylish, twisty, interesting ride that accelerated to the finish line. And had some great moments. I don't regret watching it. I do regret that I spent so much time watching it. So if you've got time to kill, here's a show to check out. You'll need to tough it out those first five episodes though.

   
• Kindness. It's not that difficult, really. If you can't be supportive of people living their best life at zero cost to you, you can at least be kind. So be kind. Offer kindness to those who are being treated unkindly. Stand against those who are treating others unkindly. As a fellow human, it’s the very least we can do.

   
Dave!
• Dietary Sadness. Quaker rice cakes are a staple of my diet. I love them. They are high in carbs (7g to 11g ea.), but it's a far better option for dessert than say... three Chips Ahoy cookies (22g) or your average cupcake (40g). I have a Plain or White Cheddar or Popcorn cake with my lunch and a flavored cake with my dinner for dessert. My favorite for dessert, by a wide margin, is Caramel Chocolate Chip. Except you can't get them any more. You have to choose either Caramel or Chocolate. Caramel Chocolate Chip has been replaced by Tomato Basil.

I decided to try them and I can't make up mystery mind. The first bite and I'm like "Tastes like crackers in tomato soup!" The second and I'm like "Tastes like pizza sauce!" Then things start to go wrong. The flavor powder accumulates on your taste buds and suddenly it's awful for some reason. I am so very, very sad that my Caramel Chocolate Chip rice cakes are gone.

   
• Pantone. There is beauty to be found in diversity. And this is amazing.

   
• Help. And before I go... I read this week that there's now a hotline specifically for caregivers... "Depression. Exhaustion. Burnout. Stress. Those are just some of the words people are using to describe their experiences as caregivers. Helping care for a family member or loved one can be hard work. People don't often talk about the emotional toll it can take on the actual caregiver. Now the Caregiver Action Network is trying to provide help by launching a hotline specifically for caregivers." — Had this existed, there were days I would have totally called this number.

   
And now... probably time for a nap considering I'm about to pass out anyway.

   

YOU GOT IT, MACGRUBER!

Posted on January 16th, 2020

Dave!Ugh. NBC just released the details of their new "Peacock" streaming service and it's not good news for me.

I have been ditching online streaming services right and left in an attempt to save money. I've decided that I'm just going to rotate between them so I have no more than two active at a time. Hulu and Netflix are getting temporarily dumped in favor of CBS All Access so I can watch Picard later this month. Then it looks like I'm going to have to dump that when all the Picard episodes have aired so I can switch to NBC's "Peacock" service for Will Forte's new MacGruber series. I loved the shorts on Saturday Night Live and really loved the MacGruber movie, so there's no option for me to avoid "Peacock" as I had planned...

Will Forte as MacGruber wearing his trademark tan vest, plaid shirt, and sunglasses.

I hope hope hope that Kristen Wiig will at least do a guest-shot as Vicki St. Elmo on MacGruber... but she's got so much going on with movies and such that it's probably a long shot.

So let's take stock of where I'm at with paid streaming services, shall we?

✓ Fubo (My main service for television)
✓ Disney+ (Prepaid for three years)
✓ Apple TV+ (Free for a year)
✓ Amazon Prime (Free with Prime membership)
✓ HBO GO (Free with AT&T cellular plan)
• Netflix ($13/mo. when I need it)
• ABC Hulu ($6/mo. when I need it)
• CBS All Access ($6/mo. when I need it)
• NBC Peacock ($5/mo. when I need it, starting July)
• Sundance Channel Now ($5/mo. when I need it)
• Hallmark Now ($6/mo. when I need it, assuming they stop being bigoted assholes)

Such a load of crap. The pricing almost ensures that people will not keep their subscriptions year-round but will instead rotate between everything like I'll be doing. They would be a lot smarter to drop from $6 a month (average) which will likely net $18 from me annually to a pre-paid yearly plan of $40 which would get them double the revenue. But oh well. I'm sure there will eventually be some kind of shakeup and consolidation, because there are likely even more streaming services on the way.

The biggest losers? Cable and satellite companies who have fucked over their customers for decades by forcing expensive massive packages with channels people will never watch. Had they gone à la carte ages ago, they could have survived this. As it is? Good riddance.

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Better Than Sliced Bread?

Posted on January 13th, 2020

Dave!When I got home from work I burned through thesecond season of Fleabag. Don't ask me why it took me this long to get around to it. Maybe it's because I didn't freak out over the first season like everybody I know did. Sure I liked it, but it wasn't better than sliced bread, I tell you what.

No, it's the second season of Fleabag that's better than sliced bread.

And speaking of better than sliced bread...

Nice to see that Marvel dumped some serious money into giving Black Widow the movie she deserves. Taskmaster is the perfect opponent, so something to look forward to (as if I weren't already).

   

Bullet Sunday 645

Posted on January 12th, 2020

Dave!The world may be cold and bleak right now but there's a bit of warmth to be had, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• WWDD? I am very late to the party with What Would Diplo DO? but am very glad that Hulu recommended it to me. James Van Der Beek plays a parody of real-life DJ Diplo and the result is some of the funniest television I've ever seen. I can't believe that Diplo signed off on this (as well as produced it). I hesitate to link to this (NSFW) trailer because the show is so much better than this would indicate, but here it is...

It seems impossible we haven't seen a second season since the show was originally released in 2017. Since there's only five episodes available (which I've already watched twice), I need more Diplo in my life.

   
• Deeply Faked. I was disappointed by The Irishman... everybody involved has done better work elsewhere and I was bored by it all. But I did watch it. And a big part of the movie is the fact that the story is told over a long period of time. So Netflix had to pony up a big chunk of money for computer FX to de-age the characters. It was done well enough that it wasn't distracting... nor did it stray too far into uncanny valley territory. But it wasn't terribly convincing either. Which is why I find the fact that some guy used free "deep fake" tools to do a much better job of it for zero dollar so amusing...

These are the same free tools that did a far superior job of replacing Superman's face after Henry Cavill couldn't shave his mustache for Justice League. I wonder how long until Hollywood gets smart about these tools. I also wonder how long before faked video is indistinguishable from authentic video... and how that's going to change the world. What happens when you can't tell what's real any more?

   
• HEADLINE: 32-year-old Medford man fighting severe flu case. I stopped getting the flu vaccine because it never seemed to make a difference. I started again when I became a granduncle because I wanted to take every possible precaution that I wouldn't get him sick. My doctor once asked me if I had gotten my flu shot and I told him that I stopped doing that. His reply? "Well, 50,000 people a year die from the flu, but it's your call." That didn't change my mind, but I see this story and what he said is stuck in my head. 32 years old. Man, I wish this poor guy the best of luck and hope he gets better soon. Get your flu vaccine, people. And if you want to know more about it, the CDC has a page for that.

   
• Front and Center. Holy cats! This $3 utility restores MacOS X window functionality so that clicking on one window will bring all windows for that app to the front. I have NO idea why Apple changed this behavior from all the MacOS's before X, but it drives me insane. And now it's BACK, baby. No idea how much I've missed this. 100% critical app.

   
• WAKANDA FOREVER! Yo, Marvel Studios... what is it going to take to get an M'Baku series on Disney+? The guy steals every single scene he's in! He lives in one of the most magical places on earth! He's a character everybody loves! Winston Duke is a cinematic treasure! It's like... how many pieces need to click together before you do what needs to be done? Is Kevin Feige asleep at the wheel?

And who wouldn't guest star in THAT piece of awesome? Black Panther? Shuri? Okoye? Nakia? They could all make an appearance. This is a show that's begging to be made.

   
And now for some hot chocolate.

   

Dave19

Posted on December 31st, 2019

Dave!For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.

Last year losing my mom was the worst year of my life. This year couldn't help but be better by comparison. But I lost one of my oldest, dearest friends right off the bat, so now I'm horrified at what 2020 may have in store. I guess I've reached the stage of my life where it's all tragedy and loss from here on out? Lord, I hope not.


JANUARY

• Took a look at Schitt's Creek, one of the best TV shows ever...

Schitt's Creek

Took a look at the Seattle Tunnel... and the horrible design of the new spaces it will allow.

   
• Built a magnificent photo wall in my stairwell...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
• Experienced Poster Raising with the Amish...

Swiffer Handle Poster Raising


FEBRUARY

• Converted another batch more DVDs and Blu-Rays to digital... and explained how you can do it too.

   
• Wished Jarrod Saltalamacchia, one of my favorite ball players, a happy retirement...

Saltalamacchia Davetoon with Lil' Dave in a Red Sox jersey.

   
Dedicated a post to Mufasa, Jake's toy lion, his favorite thing in the universe...

Jake and Mufasa

   
• Lamented the fact that SeaTac International Airport is still a shitpile of fail, even when they build something new.


MARCH

Said good bye to one of my oldest and dearest friends...

Selfie

   
• Watched as my home keeps getting invaded by trash pandas.

   
• Spent my 101st Caturday taking inventory of the cats in my neighborhood...

Jake!


APRIL

• Watched the funniest stand-up of the year with Nate Bargatze's The Tennessee Kid (highest possible recommendation if you have Netflix)...

   
Took Jake back to the vet after he ended up sick again. Still amazed that the little guy can't meow ever... EXCEPT when he is in distress...

   
• Found out the reason Jake was sick was because he fell off the stairwell banister. Absolutely heartbreaking (and more than a little scary), but he recovered like a champ...

Jenny On the Banister

   
Built a bannister ledge tray to keep my cats from falling down the stairwell again...

Stairwell


MAY

Laser Prince, baby.

   
• Talked about the series of travel books I made for my mom to commemorate each of the trips we took together...

Mom Travel Book!

   
• Shared my thoughts on the fucking disaster that was the Game of Thrones final season...

Drogon Goes Postal!


JUNE

• Once again shared a video on how tax brackets work because I am sick and tired of people believing the bullshit lies that are being propagated. I honestly don't know if this is the best way, but if we're going to discuss tax brackets let's at least be informed as to what they are. And with that in mind, here we go again...

   
Said goodbye to Grant, an internet friend who will be sorely missed.

   
• A visit to the Chihuly Garden of Glass, a magical place crafted by one of my favorite living artists...

Chihuly Gardens Seattle

   
One year on without my mom...


JULY

• Spent my lazy summer days floating down a river...

Floating Down the River

   
Haunted by The Light.

Mom Asleep with Spanky the Cat

   
The Consequence of Filler.

   
Finally cut the cord and got rid of the toxic mess that my satellite television had become.

   
Ooh... Upgrades (a process that is ongoing, by the way!).


AUGUST

My new motto for living...

I'll never be mad at someone else living their best life at zero cost to me. For anyone feeling ostracized and belittled by the nonsense of those who think they have any say at all in how you identify, dust the haters off, and be free. Now that's 'Merica.

   
• I have opinions. And they get me in trouble by all sides.

   
• Back in Vegas for the third? Fourth? time in 2019 and decided to take stock of my one-time Planet Hollywood obsession...

Planet Hollywood Orlando

   
• Got to see Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty...

Janet Jackson in concert at The Park Theater in Las Vegas with lights ablazin'

   
• Discovered the total magic of my favorite new thing... THE IMPOSSIBLE WHOPPER at Burger King...

A Burger King Impossible Whopper hamburger.

   
• Got myself an Apple Card... an interesting beast to be sure.

   
• My obligatory Apple Card unboxing entry...

Opening the Apple-embossed folio reveals the Apple card in a holder filled with colors.

   
• Total outrage that Hallmark can't seem to ever get the details right.

   
• Jake and Jenny's cat personality analysis...

Jake smiling and happy while sleeping.


SEPTEMBER

Jenny's perpetually adorable resting cranky face...

Kitten Jenny with her sour face.

   
• Hell of a Day, Isn’t It? Talked about what happens when you lose that person you share an inside joke with.

   
• Impressed the internet when I joined in on the SHOW US A PHOTO OF YOUR KITCHEN CABINET meme...

A photo of my cupboard with boxes, cans, and pouches all neatly arranged and organized so I can find things easily.

   
• Shared my brief attempt at being a home designer.

House floor plan.


OCTOBER

• Put my iPhone 11 Pro through it's paces... and shared my thoughts in it's incredible camera capabilities...

A beautiful shot of the Ray's Boathouse neon sign glowing while intense colors of sundown light up the sky behind it.

   
• Took my iPhone 11 Pro camera for a spin in my favorite American city.

Another shot of St. Louis Cathedral at dusk with a lovely green glow on the sides of the building.

   
Tears at the A&W Drive-In.

A photo of an old A&W drive-in at dusk showing parking spots with the car-hop menu boards sticking out and a sign saying ALL YOU CAN EAT SHRIMP DINNER $849 FRIDAY ONLY on an illuminated billboard attached to the road-sign.

   
Your Heart Disease, Courtesy of Big Beef.


NOVEMBER

• Ranting against changing the clocks because it fucks up my cats like nothing else... and the quail are back...

Jake has joined Jenny out in the catio to stalk the quail.

   
• Flew to Minneapolis so I could experience Avengers: Damage Control in real-live kinda virtual reality...

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

   
• Caring for somebody with dementia involves telling lies and making decisions.

   
• Disney+ finally debuted with a slew of watchable stuff to occupy time I don't have.

   
Thirty Dollars for Fish Entertainment...

A clown fish snuggling into some living coral.

   
• Get Angry, Then Laugh... same as it ever was... same as it ever was.

   
SHUT. THE FUCK. UP.


DECEMBER

Happy Birthday, Jake and Jenny!

Jenny & Jake

   
• And, oh yeah, I joined the Instant Pot cult!

   
• Finally replaced my dying MacBook Pro... with a MacBook Pro...

   
• Let's take a Very Special edition of Caturday to talk about how technology helps Fake Jake survives the winter!

Fake Jake as seen from the roof camera, all snuggled up in his cat shelter with his paws over his nose.

   
It's the little things which happen day-today that keep destroying me...

Mom and I standing under a gorgeous African sunset with the savannah in the background.

And there you have it... my 2019 year in review.

Thanks once again to my cats, family, and friends for making life bearable through even the worst of times.

Here's to a good 2020, everybody.

   

Tube19

Posted on December 30th, 2019

Dave!And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of TV shows that came out this year.

Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of TV shows I saw that came out this year." As always, there's a bunch of shows I never got around to watching that might have ended up on my list. And here we go...

THE EIGHTEEN BEST...
These are my favorite television shows from this year that I actually saw.

Favorite Television Shows 2019

#1 Watchmen (HBO)
Wonderfully faithful to the comic book in a way that the movie adaptation wasn't, Damon Lindelof's "Don't-Call-It-A-Sequel" sequel is sublimely complex and worthwhile. Absolutely everything comes together at the end like a puzzle which has defined a complete story instead of something incomplete because it's setting up pointless sequels. Which is how all television should be handled. Story? Perfect. Cast? Perfect. Cinematography? Perfect. Special effects? Perfect. Music (by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)? Perfect. Television doesn't get much better than this. But, then again, this isn't television... it's HBO.

#2 The Mandalorian (Disney+)
The best thing to happen to Star Wars since Rogue One, this was a launch title for Disney+, and the only excuse you need to subscribe to the service. Taking a member of the elite corps that spawned Boba Fest, pairing him with a "Baby Yoda" and other interesting characters, then treating the whole thing like a lone gunman Western in space is sheer genius... and I am esthetic that Disney let Jon Favreau play in their sandbox like this because it absolutely paid off... especially at the end. Here's hoping Season 2 is just as good.

#3 Barry (HBO)
I liked the first season of Bill Hader's dark comedy about an assassin trying to go straight... but I loved the second season. So many delicious moments, and a cast that knows exactly what to do with them. This show is absolutely nuts and willing to take risks that other shows wouldn't touch. The ronny/lily episode was entirely too good and could only happen here.

#4 Bob (Hearts) Abishola (CBS)
I had absolutely no hope for this show. I am not a fan of Billy Gardell and the idea of Chuck Lorre being adept enough to handle a comedy featuring cultural differences between the US and Nigeria was dicey at best. But... it has Christine Ebersole in it and had Gina Yashere writing (and appearing) for the show to add some authenticity... so I gave it a shot. Surprisingly, it all works really well. It's funny, smart, and doesn't rely on stereotypes for the bulk of its comedy. Folake Olowofoyeku as Abishola completely owns the role and it feels more authentic than half the crap on television. Go figure.

#5 Magnum P.I. (CBS)
This is just a fun show with a great cast telling (usually) entertaining stories in a pretty location. I was hugely resistant to the show when it debuted, but warmed up to it pretty quickly given the dynamic between Magnum and Higgins... and the critical role of Detective Katsumoto. Toss in Amy Hill and I'm all in. The second season is not as tight as the first, saddling us with truly terrible "theme" episodes foe Halloween and Christmas that absolutely did not work, but most of the episodes so far have been darn good and something I look forward to week after week.

#6 After Life (Netflix)
Ricky Gervais is an incredibly polarizing talent (currently involved in some social media conflict which does not look good on him at all) and I can pretty much take or leave his entire body of work. But then along comes After Life which manages to be funny, sad, heartwarming, and life affirming all at the same time... all the while exploring what it means to be alive with an interesting bunch of characters. Easily my favorite thing by Gervais, I hope for even more good things out of Season 2.

Favorite Television Shows 2019

#7 Stumptown (ABC)
After one of the strongest series opener I've ever seen, there was an adjustment period where things dropped several stories in my opinion of the show. Now I'm comfortably settled and enjoying it for what it is... an opportunity for Cobie Smulders to be one of the biggest badasses on television in stories that are generally a lot of fun to watch. And while usually I like over-reaching show arcs that let each show build to an interesting finale, that isn't really working here and I'm not sure why. It's almost like it's distracting from the "story-of-the-week" in a way that sabotages them both. It's likely that the writers are still trying to find a balance, and they just need time to get it right. A second season should help with that immensely.

#8 The Boys (Amazon)
The hyper-violent comic book world of The Boys seems like something that would be impossible to adapt. But Amazon went ahead and gave it a shot and was mostly successful. Some of the changes from the source material were smart moves... some of them were just plain weird... and their idea for closing out the first season was something I'm not entirely sure worked all that well. And yet... I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish and anxious to see how they forge into new territory when it debuts next year.

#9 In The Dark (The CW)
I did not see this show when it first aired since I had been ignoring The CW once I ditched all their DC Heroes shows. But eventually Netflix picked it up and the show landed on my radar pretty quick. A blind woman who stays intentionally distant from people manages to make friends with a young drug-dealer who saved her life. Everything else is just a blur of one-night stands and alcohol abuse. Until her young friend is murdered and she makes it her mission in life to track down his killer. It's compelling, compelling stuff that's brilliantly realized right up until the end. I have no idea how they are going to approach a second season, but I will absolutely be tuning in to find out (even if I end up having to buy it to watch).

#10 The Orville (FOX/Hulu)
This remains nothing more than a classy reimagining of Star Trek: The Next Generation with jokes, but it's done really, really well. The second season wasn't as strong as the first, but still had some really good stories to tell. Next year the show switches from FOX to Hulu which is likely its death-knell. I hope that Seth MacFarlane realizes this and goes for broke... because that is a show I'd like to see.

#11 Living with Yourself (Netflix)
Despite my love of all things Paul Rudd, I did not go rushing to watch this one. I honestly thought it would be yet another clone effort that relied more on special effects than story. And... I was 100% wrong. This was a smart and insightful show that took full advantage of Paul Rudd's talents to turn in a really good show. Wisely, they didn't go full-on crackpot and ruin things... choosing instead to go more of an Arnold Schwarzenegger's The 6th Day route, but with less guns. It totally works and might have ranked higher on my list if they had edited it to be more moment-to-moment for the perspective flashbacks instead of episode-to-episode which got a bit tiring after the first time.

#12 Schitt's Creek (Pop TV)
I don't have access to Pop TV, so I always miss getting Schitt's Creek on my list. This time I ended up buying the series so I could watch in real-time with the rest of the world. Sadly, the fourth season was a pretty big step down from the third... but still wholly entertaining. As we head towards the fifth and final season, I can't help but wonder if they will mire the characters in the same-old same-old... or if they will really take a chance and try to do something new and interesting. We've seen what the same-old got us last season, so here's hoping for the latter.

Favorite Television Shows 2019

#13 Young Sheldon (CBS)
I loved the first season, was tired of it all the second, but have fallen in love with it again this third season. It's like they decided to take real advantage of the times that Sheldon and his family are living so they have a unique take on the stories they can tell... instead of just deciding to make Young Sheldon do all the same stuff they had Original Sheldon do when he was on the Big Bang Theory. This makes for a far stronger show, and allows Zoe Perry to have more interesting places to goo with her character than yet another "I'm exasperated because Sheldon is so trying" episode.

#14 The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
As an adaptation of the comic book, I wasn't entirely thrilled with how The Umbrella Academy turned out. As an entertaining show in its own right, however? I think they did a really good job with it all. Smartly cast and written, there are a few too many wasted moments that make for an uneven first season, but I was entertained for most of it. You certainly can't say that about most television now-a-days.

#15 The Righteous Gemstones (HBO)
The series went out of its way to show that hypocrisy and corruption by churches ultimately ends with punishment, so why are so many Christians going bonkers over it? Unless they feel their church is hypocritical and corrupt and they don't like being called out on it? You got me. All I know is that John Goodman and crew made an entertaining show with some truly hilarious and priceless moments to savor.

#16 The Imagineering Story (Disney+)
As a kid, I was far more fascinated with how Disneyland works more than anything else. The magic of the place for me was not in the characters and the stories but in the miraculous way that Disney made it all work. And here comes a series which celebrates exactly that! My only complaint? It didn't last long enough. While they did a fine job of presenting a scattershot view of a number of things, so many avenues were glossed over or ignored entirely. I have no idea if Disney is planning on another set of episodes, but they really should. For people such as myself, that's the magic.

#17 Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
The first series of the past-future Star Trek series was fantastic. The story was shocking, smart, and superbly handled. There were some confusing aspects to how this fit in with the continuity of the bigger picture, but it was so good I didn't ask too many questions. Then the second season comes along and tries to answer those questions and all of a sudden we're shitting the bed with a massively convoluted storyline that had me lose interest in the show. Except... we also got an appearance by Spock, Pike, and the gang from the original Enterprise which was sublime. So good that it covered for a multitude of sins that made me dislike everything else so strongly. And now I really, really want a new Star Trek featuring the Enterprise crew... even more than I want a third season of Discovery. Here's hoping that Michelle Yeoh's spin-off is more interesting that what we had here.

#18 The Conners (ABC)
If you had asked me if Rosanne could continue on without Rosanne, I'd have said "no." But then it arrived and worked just fine. Then a second season came and seemed to be even better. Now I'm convinced that what we're seeing is better than the rebooted series ever was. If there's a flaw, it's focusing way too much on Harris and her annoying problems. Yes, I know she's supposed to be the payback for Darlene being Darlene back in the original series... but Sara Gilbert always managed to play her character with a sense of heart and honesty that made her endearing. Harris is just overt awfulness and a drag on absolutely everything else being done so well. My hope is that she will either mellow the hell out or disappear entirely, because I'd love to enjoy another season.

   
MUST SEE COMEDY...

Favorite Television Comedy Stand-Up Shows 2019

#1 Nate Bargatze: The Tennessee Kid (Netflix)
The fact that Nate Bargatze is this dang funny is remarkable. The fact that he manages to be that funny without using any swear words is bordering on a miracle. Trading on expectations for The South, this is a far, far smarter and funnier than anything you'll see come from Larry the Cable Guy. Or, dare I say, Jeff Foxworthy. Not only my favorite standup special of 2019, probably my favorite in years.

#2 Ellen Degeneres: Relatable (Netflix)
Thank heavens for Netflix backing up a dumptruck full of cash to Ellen's house so she'd bless us with yet another hilarious bit of standup. It's been far too long, and seeing this just makes me regret that her daytime talk show occupies such a major portion of her time. Ellen really needs to be doing more standup, and all the reasons why are right here.

#3 Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward (Netflix)
Look, not everybody is going to "get" Anthony's comedy. He works overtime to be offensive, owns that he's offensive, and builds his entire routine around being offensive. This time he's bringing it just as hard as he always does, but I have to admit it's getting a little tired. But I will gladly keep watching everything he does because I know I'm sick enough to find it hilarious.

#4 Ramy Youssef: Feelings (HBO)
Ramy, AKA "That Muslim comedian that's not Hasan Minhaj" has a show on Hulu that's darn good. But I had never heard any of his stand-up until Feelings. As expected, it's darn good. Really smart, blisteringly funny, and wonderfully relatable. The ever expanding diversity of voices which make us laugh is no small thing. Our humanity is what binds us together despite our differences. What's more human than to laugh? And feel how you want to feel about it, but his final thought in his special is the most powerful thing to happen on your television this year.

#5 Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (Netflix)
Wanda's earliest specials were like dynamite and quickly propelled her to one of my favorite comedians working. I bought every special she released and laughed over them again and again. As time has marched on she hasn't gotten any less funny, but I am not as enamored with her material. Motherhood and marriage are just not as funny to me. And yet there's a whole lot of hilarity to be found in Not Normal.

#6 Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones (Netflix)
Yeah, I put it on my list. No, it's not as smart or insightful as his previous works. Yeah, a lot of people were offended. No, I don't think the material was as horrific as people were saying. Yeah, I respect people's opinion and 100% believe in their right to express their opinion. No, I still found it funny.

   
TELEVISION HONORABLE MENTION...

  • Russian Doll (Netflix)
    Natasha Lyonne? I had no idea. She is positively brilliant in this show which has time travel and alternate realities but isn't about being hardcore sci-fi. I do think that they were a little too obtuse on some points, which is probably by design... but the show took a hit because of it for me.
  • Taco Chronicles (Netflix)
    The history a lives around six different types of tacos in Mexico. It's fascinating, entertaining, educational, and really good television.
  • New Amsterdam. (NBC)
    This started out as the most laughable, ridiculous show. Then quickly became good television. Now in its second season, it's better than ever as it comes up with interesting stories and great ways of telling them.
  • When They See Us. (Netflix)
    I was pulling really hard for Ava DuVernay when A Wrinkle in Time came out. She's a truly talented filmmaker and I'd love for her to have mainstream success with a Disney movie. That didn't work out. At all. But here she is with a show that is brilliant and powerful and I am absolutely not surprised. Detailing the lives around the "Central Park Five" who were wrongly accused of rape in 1989, you will either see this and be upset... then outraged. Or you won't. But I have to say that if you're not, that's on you.
  • Chernobyl (HBO)
    This was disturbing in a way that most fictional television programs can't approach. Based (for the most part) on real life events Retelling the events of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the cleanup efforts that followed.
  • Good Omens (Amazon)
    After a demon and an angel have become happy with their lives on earth, they decide to prevent Armageddon and the end of the world so they don't have to leave. This is a darn good adaptation of the Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman novel (probably because Gaiman adapted it) which actually adds to the story in ways that are important and entertaining.
  • Grand Hotel (ABC)
    This American adaptation of a Spanish drama had a lot of twists and turns and was always introducing something new to keep things interesting... right up until the end when it was canceled on a cliffhanger. Why oh why don't shows wrap up their storylines when they don't know if they are getting another season?

   
DISAPPOINTMENT...

  • The Good Place (NBC)
    What the fork happened? This final season has been so absurdly boring and uninteresting that I honestly don't care if it's all leading to something. I stopped watching half-way through, and will just tune in to the final episode to see how it all ends.
  • Reef Break (ABC)
    Started out okay... got real good... then became tedious and uninteresting.
  • The Rookie (ABC)
    Completely lost its way after the departure of Afton Williamson... which is not surprising considering why she left.
  • God Friended Me (CBS)
    If I have to hear lazy writers making characters say "THE GOD ACCOUNT" one more fucking time I will absolutely lose it. I really liked this story in the earlier episodes of the first season, but they had completely gone off the rails by the end of the series and there was no way I was giving the show any more of my valuable time in a second series.

   
SHITTING THE BED...

  • Game of Thrones (HBO)
    Absolutely humiliating final season for HBO. One of the most beloved series of all times goes steadily downhill until this final season which was rushed to completion by writers who didn't give a fuck and just wanted it all to end. I feel mortified for the cast who devoted nearly a decade of their life to a show that went out so badly.

   
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN...

  • Wrecked (TBS)
    For the life of me I don't understand how this wasn't one of the most popular shows on television. Funny, dark, and 100% entertaining in a way that so many shows are afraid to try. I will really miss this series.
  • Whiskey Cavalier (ABC)
    The cast made this show absolutely unmissable, and the stories they had were never terrible but didn't quite achieve greatness either. I honestly think that everything would have come together beautifully in a second season but, alas, it was not to be.

And, on that note, here's to all the crap shows that will end up replacing good shows in the new year.

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Alarming Wakeup

Posted on December 27th, 2019

Dave!Winter in the Northeast is not as nice as Winter in the Northwest for some reason. For one thing (and I honestly don't understand how this happens considering I live farther North than I am right now) it seems to get darker sooner. Our 4:00pm is their 3:30. Maybe the weather patterns hold the overcast in tighter so it just feels that way? I dunno. But it's pretty depressing.

This morning my entire life was put on hold so I could watch the season finale of The Mandalorian (AKA "That Baby Yoda Show"), which was actually quite good...

It's strange how this 8-episode television series felt more "Star Wars" than just about anything which followed The Empire Strikes Back. Perhaps Rogue One is the exception for me (I loved that movie)... but I'll definitely take The Mandalorian over Episodes 1-3 and Episodes 6-9 of "The Skywalker Saga." And I haven't even seen Episode 9 yet.

Hopefully we'll get something a little more ambitious for Season Two. As great as Season One was, it still dragged quite a bit in the middle.

After that was over it was time for my 2-1/2-hour drive north. Which sounds bad, but I'll take it over the 3-1/2-hour drive that I get to make in the Summer when the roads are swarming with tourists. That's travel torture right there.

And speaking of travel torture... now it's time to decide if I want to eat questionable hotel food for the second night in a row... or brave the cold and try my luck at a restaurant.

Either way, it's likely I'm setting myself up for disappointment.

   

Bullet Sunday 642

Posted on December 15th, 2019

Dave!The end of Watchment may be nigh, but Blogography will carry on, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Who's... Well, that was special. I was a little disappointed that the pre-ending was telegraphed so far in advance that there wasn't much of a surprise there. Though the end-ending was wonderfully in the spirit of the graphic novel ending, and that was appreciated. So... not so much a knock-it-out-of-the-park finale, but one that left me happy. At least Lindelof didn't completely shit the bed as he is wont to do.

Watchmen poster with masked pollicewoman Sister Night standing in front of the iconic Watchmen yellow clock face.

Easily my favorite television program of 2019. Congratulations to Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, and everybody else involved.

   
• ...Watching... According to an article in Variety, showrunner Damon Lindelof doesn't have an idea for a second season. Which I find hilarious, because that didn't stop him when he was working on Lost...

Dr. Manhattan walking through Vietnam with a mask on, his back towards us.

But, yeah, Watchmen was a major success for HBO, so I'm guessing somebody will come up with an idea. Even if it's a bad one. And while that would be a pity... or possibly something actually great... it doesn't matter. This "first season" will endure in greatness.

   
• ...The Watchmen? In preparation for the finale, I re-watched all the prior episodes this past week. I will likely re-watch them all again sometime soon into the new year. I'm fairly certain that I caught all the connections and groundwork and Easter eggs and nods to the original... but you never know...

A carton of eggs, with only one egg remaining... a still from the finale of Watchmen.

Everything was so well planned, thought out, and initiated that I'm sure there's more depth to be found. That's the joy of the series.

   
• Tracking. So... I really didn't think that I could be surprised by my new MacBook Pro. I was wrong. This weekend I cut my finger trying to get a piece of potato out of my fry chopper. It was bleeding pretty bad, so I had to double-bandage it so I wasn't bleeding over everything. And then I attempted to click on my trackpad. But couldn't. BECAUSE THE NEW TRACKPADS DON'T ACTUALLY MOVE WHEN YOU PRESS ON THEM! That "click" is just haptic feedback which gives you the illusion that you're clicking on something. Naked finger? Click. Bandaged finger? No click. Weird. When I Googled how it works, I got this. Keen!

   
• Nugget. HEADLINE: Roxette Singer Marie Fredriksson Dies at 61...

Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle of the band Roxette looking very 80's and staring into the camera.

This cuts me to the core. I love, love, LOVE Roxette. Not just the debut album, EVERY album. I still have their music in regular rotation to this day. I was so happy when Marie recovered and was able to bless us with her magic again. She had a tough road, but was always positive and loving towards her fans. What a remarkable woman. What a remarkable talent. What a remarkable VOICE. You will very much be missed by me... and your legion of dedicated fans. Rest in peace, Marie.

   
• Nugget. HEADLINE: Chuy Bravo, Chelsea Handler's Chelsea Lately Sidekick, Dead at 63...

A photo of Chuy Bravo on the Chelsea Lately show wearing a cap and smiling.

Yes, he was the butt of many jokes... but he was also very funny in his own right. He was a huge part of what kept me watching Chelsea Lately. You will be missed, sir.

   
• Once You Pop... IT'S PRINGLE RICK!!!

A can of Pringles with Pickle Rick from Rick & Morty on it.

I love Rick and Morty more than the vast majority of programs on television. Watching them sell out like this fills my heart with joy. It's just so Rick and Morty!

   
• Hallmark Channel Update. "Hallmark is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create. It is never Hallmark's intention to be divisive or generate controversy. We are an inclusive company and have a track record to prove it. We have LGBTQ greeting cards and feature LGBTQ couples in commercials. We have been recognized as one of the Human Rights Campaigns Best Places to Work, and as one of Forbes America's Best Employers for Diversity. We have been a progressive pioneer on television for decades – telling wide ranging stories that elevate the human spirit such as August Wilson's The Piano Lesson and Colm Tóibín's The Blackwater Lightship, both of which highlight the importance of tolerance and understanding. Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials."

I am not willing to forgive and forget just yet. I am still boycotting because this is far, far too important to ignore. But I am totally overjoyed at the thoughts of bigoted heads exploding over at One Dozen Moms. The piece of shit fucking assholes. Priceless. We shall see if Hallmark has learned anything. We shall see if GLAAD is satisfied. We shall see if they live up to their promise of inclusion. We shall see. In the meanwhile? Fuck them. I am just fine doing without Hallmark in my life until they have shown that they are worth supporting again. Promises get broken every day.

   
Until next Sunday then. Because nothing ever ends...

   

Hallmark: The Hate of TV

Posted on December 14th, 2019

Dave!UPDATE: "Hallmark is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create. It is never Hallmark's intention to be divisive or generate controversy. We are an inclusive company and have a track record to prove it. We have LGBTQ greeting cards and feature LGBTQ couples in commercials. We have been recognized as one of the Human Rights Campaigns Best Places to Work, and as one of Forbes America's Best Employers for Diversity. We have been a progressive pioneer on television for decades – telling wide ranging stories that elevate the human spirit such as August Wilson's The Piano Lesson and Colm Tóibín's The Blackwater Lightship, both of which highlight the importance of tolerance and understanding. Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials."

The full statement and story is here.

I don't know about being a "progressive pioneer"... as I mention below, they barely... and I mean barely... acknowledge that LGBTQ persons even exist in the movies which play on Hallmark Movie Channel. Perhaps now that they will be working with GLAAD, that will change.

All I do know is that I am overjoyed at the thought that bigoted heads are exploding over at One Dozen Moms. The piece of shit bigoted fucking assholes. And here is my original post...

   
And so... I guess I'm done with Hallmark.

As has been widely reported on the news, Hallmark Channel stopped airing a commercial featuring a same-sex couple getting married once the hate organization "One Million Moms" decided to stage a boycott. Never mind that "One Million" is more likely just a dozen hateful fucking dumbass bigoted pieces of shit with a Facebook group and a website... this was just wrong on Hallmark's part. In their complaint, One Dozen Moms said that Hallmark Channel is "usually safe for family viewing. But unfortunately, that is not the case anymore." Because two people are kissing... something that happens all the fucking time in Hallmark movies... is somehow "not family-friendly" when it's between two women...

Well fuck that. You accepted the commercial for airing. To backtrack now is cowardly and shows the entire world that you buckle to hate organizations.

It's insane shit like this that creates a toxicity which causes LGBTQ youth to kill themselves.

And I will not be a part of that.

Hallmark Channel: The HATE of TV.

As you might have guessed from the section of Blogography devoted to my obsession with Hallmark movies, there's no bigger fan of trashy Hallmark movies than I am. Even so...

  • I am canceling my subscription to Hallmark Movies Now.
  • After the final five movies I have set to record to finish out the year, I will no longer be patronizing any of the Hallmark Channels or watching any of their programming.
  • Since Crown Media Holdings, the studio behind Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is completely owned by Hallmark Cards, I will no longer purchase a single thing made or sold by Hallmark.
  • Needless to say, I will not be purchasing any Hallmark content digitally or on DVD or Blu-Ray or any other medium.

Seriously. Fuck Hallmark and their culture of bigotry and support of hate organizations.

It's one thing to not feature LGBTQ characters in your fictional movies and programming... it's another thing entirely to say that LGBTQ persons in Real Life are "not family-friendly."

What hurts the most here is not that I won't have Hallmark movies as background noise while I work any more... they're all the same story, so who really gives a shit... it's that there are numerous LGBTQ persons in front of the camera and behind the scenes at Hallmark that deserve better than this. Peter Porte, one of my favorite Hallmark actors (who is in one of my all-time Hallmark movies, Love at the Shore), is gay. He was married to his husband last year...

Peter Porte and his husband on a boat... you can see water in the background.

But now his employer is essentially saying "Your marriage and relationship is not family-friendly."

This kind of bigotry and discrimination is fucked up and disgusting. Same-sex marriage... or MARRIAGE, as I call it... is legal and recognized in this country. But even if it wasn't, it's still pretty fucked up that you would treat the people in your employ, people who are responsible for your success, with this kind of hate.

In all honesty, I thought that Hallmark might be changing. That they had a secret agenda to redefine their antiquated idea of "normal" and slowly... oh so slowly... change the perceptions of their viewer base.

In Road to Christmas, Jessy Schram is trying to assemble the adopted sons of her boss for a television show. One of Chad Michael Murray's brothers is "David" who co-owns a pet shelter with his partner. It is not explicitly stated that they are a gay couple. But you know. In this year's Valentine in the Vineyard, Rachael Leigh Cook and Brendan Penny are at a couple's relationship-building workshop... and one of the couples at their table were two guys. It was such a tiny acknowledgement, but it was an important step for Hallmark. My hope was that eventually LGBTQ representation would gradually creep into more and more movies until we finally got a LGBTQ couple as leads. But having Hallmark cave to a hate group like they have puts any of that in serious doubt.

Fortunately there are other networks producing trashy romance movies I can watch. Netflix has no problem at all acknowledging that LBGTQ persons exist, so that's where I'll get my background noise now.

Because until Hallmark leaves bigotry behind and stops contributing to the toxicity which is responsible for our LGBTQ youth killing themselves... which is responsible for the inequality of LGBTQ relationships... which is responsible for our fellow LGBTQ humans being persecuted and treated like second-class citizens... I won't be supporting them and the hate they support.

Hallmark claims to be "The Heart of TV."

But they've just proven that's not the case at all.

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Bullet Sunday 641

Posted on December 8th, 2019

Dave!Don't let the prelude to holiday madness get your down, because an all new Very Special Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• WW84. My first instinct is to trust that Patty Jenkins will deliver an awesome sequel to her amazing Wonder Woman movie. But this new trailer... I just don't know. Apparently this is not actually a "sequel" but instead "the next iteration" of Wonder Woman. Which seems like a cop-out... especially since Steve Trevor looks to be alive(?) after dying in the first movie. Or, if not alive, a figment of Diana's imagination? Or something. And while I'm excited at the prospect of Kristin Wiig playing long-time Wonder Woman adversary The Cheetah, I'm a little less thrilled at the idea of Maxwell Lord factoring into all this as some kind of maniacal infomercial villain...

The music and action scenes look stellar. I guess we'll find out if this is a Wonder Woman worth watching when the movie is released on June 5th, 2020.

   
• Guy. I had heard absolutely nothing about Free Guy until I saw this trailer...

The concept is great. Casting Ryan Reynolds and Taika Waititi is fantastic. The visuals are amazing. I hope all that adds up to a really good movie. I guess we'll find out on July 3rd, 2020.

   
• Life? And... tonight was yet another bizarre (yet completely watchable) episode of HBO's Watchmen. And with just one episode left, I am anxious to see how everything comes together at the end. And yet... I'm willing to be that the haunting version of David Bowie's Life on Mars by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from last Sunday will still be stuck in my head...

Because nothing ever ends.

   
• LEGO! Two guys after my own heart with their LEGO groom & groom decorations! Their story reminds me of the movie Yossi & Jagger. WHY CAN'T WE HAVE THIS AS A HALLMARK MOVIE?!?

I mean, come on... how sweet is this...

Maybe one day nobody will give a crap what other people want for their marriage since it has absolutely no bearing on their life. But, until then, I guess the needle keeps moving.

   
• Masters. Speaking of LEGO... how in the heck is a competition show like the only just now happening?

It's kinda a no-brainer concept. But that doesn't mean it will make for good television even though it should make for great television.

   
• Ad Aware. I love a good advertisement, and am always amazed when somebody creates a truly great ad without the help of an ad agency and a lot of money. Case in point...

The ad was created for £100 by the shop owner, his kid, and his best friend... in one day. I've seen million-dollar ads which were far less memorable and even less effective.

   
And that's probably enough videos for one day. So until next time...

   

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