Saturday, August 20, 2016

Funk

Been wandering in a little bit of a funk the past couple or three days.  I started vacation today, so it was a little weird.  Here lately, it's rare to have 2 days off in a row (I haven't had two days off in a row that weren't associated with vacation time since the spring).

I thought about it this morning that today's Southern Brewers Festival down in Chattanooga.

It used to be an annual event.  It'd be a day when a large-ish group of us would get together.  Enjoy an afternoon.  Have a beer or two.  Listen to some music.

Three or four years, we'd get a hotel room in downtown, so as not to have to worry about driving home tired and tipsy.

It was a good weekend.  Where we got to enjoy being with friends.  Got to enjoy not working for a day.  I looked forward to it.  It was a good day.   I can't remember ever having a bad time.

As we grew older, it changed.  Job demands made it difficult.  Some people had kids.  Priorities changed.  Also, the festival got more expensive, for both admission and beer.

A couple of years ago, the group got down to just Shyam and me.  Which was fun, but truth be told, we could find better ways to spend our time and money if it was just the two of us.

Still, I miss it.

I'll sour grape my way through the day.  It's hot.  It's crowded.  It's expensive.

But I miss it.  I don't get to see my friends much, anymore.  Even the nearby ones.  Plans fall through.  Kids.  Work.  You  know how it goes.

Maybe that's the funk, too.  Being a grownup sucks, sometimes.

Anyway.  A little mawkish, this morning.

You folks that are going, raise a glass for me.  Enjoy that time.  It's a good one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Big Stupid (Stranger) Tommy


Monday, August 08, 2016

Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne

Shyam and I wandered to the Swingin' Midway Drive-In last night.  Neither of us had to work this morning, so we could afford to stay out until 1:30 or 2 watching a couple of movies under the stars.

Also?  Team No Kids, so we don't have a school year to get ready for.

It was her first time heading out there this year, my second.  It rained like mad here in Athens before we headed out, but petered out on our way toward Etowah.  The whole of the night, we watched lighting skirt the horizons to the south and west.  The last half of the twinbill had me watching the weather radar on the phone, where a line of thunderstorms was moving through Chattanooga, Cleveland and Calhoun.  It missed us, though....

2016 has been a weird, rough year for movies.  There hasn't been much I've been really looking forward to, and what I have has been largely disappointing.

Captain America: Civil War was pretty tight, and probably the best of the summer.  I enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse but acknowledge that it's something of a mess.  I also enjoyed Ghostbusters, which I hope makes bigger stars out of Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

I was really hoping for good things with both Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne.

Suicide Squad was disappointing.  I was really hoping for something more.  Something fun.  Warner and DC can't seem to get behind the idea that the characters are a big reason the Marvel flick have been successful.  The events in and of themselves are sometimes subpar over with their Marvel counterparts (I mean, how many times can we finish a movie fighting a battle up in the sky?).  But the character interplay, depending largely on the charisma of the individual actors (Robert Downey, Jr, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Pratt all come to mind) and the chemistry of their interplay  (Downey/Evans are great together, as are Evans/Johannson, Downey/Ruffalo, as well as the entire cast of Guardians).

Suicide Squad has strong performances.  Will Smith brings good stuff, as do Margot Robbie and Viola Davis.  The interplay between Smith and Robbie is interesting (though I hesitate to call it good--there just isn't enough of it).  There's wasted talent.  This movie needed more conflict between characters (Shyam wisely points out that a team of sociopaths should have had, at the very least, more surface conflict and abrasion between characters).  This movie need some interesting comic relief, and it had the perfect outlet in Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang.  Instead, Boomerang spends the bulk of the movie sulking in corners and repeatedly retrieving his pink stuffed unicorn.

I feel like this one ended up with too many cooks, despite David Ayer being credited as both writer and director.  This one had Studio ReWrite and Studio Re Edit all over it.  There are parts that are visually amazing, and there's a laugh or two.  On the whole, I walked away disappointed, and a little angry at myself for expecting anything different.

Jason Bourne was fun, and while I welcomed the return of Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon back to the series.  It was fun, and satisfying in the ways I needed it to be.  Damon's good, Alicia Vikander is quite good.  Tommy Lee Jones continues his transition into a growling troll.  I can't say that Jason Bourne breaks any new ground, but I still found it satisfying.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Schadenfreude

I drive home on a 2 lane highway.  It's a major artery.  I'll drive about 60.  Which is faster than the speed limit but generally with the flow of traffic.

Today, I was second in a line of about seven or eight cars.  Eight in this line was a tan Jaguar.

Apparently, the driver of the Jaguar was in a hurry, as he decides to pass everybody in front of him.

From in between Cleveland, and Charleston, TN all the way to highway 11's terminus on Barsoom, Mars.

Actually, it was just everybody in that immediate line.

He didn't make it.  He had to swerve in front of me to miss oncoming traffic.  He missed the front of the car by inches.

At his next opportunity, he passed, and quickly came up on the city limits of Charleston, where the speed limit is 35, and they mean Thirty By God Five Miles an Hour, son!

He nearly has to ditch his car when a car in front of him has to stop at the Piggly Wiggly.

He then speeds up.  I'd estimate fifty, and that's conservative.

The balloon of schadenfreude that swells in my chest as the Charleston Police SUV pulls out from the Municipal Building's parking lot following him nearly lifted me off this planet.

Blue lights.

I shouldn't have, but I laughed myself hoarse.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Snopes, and whatnot

Go read this:  http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/a-guide-to-arguing-with-a-snopes-denier-6384551

Campers, this is a beautiful, amazing time to live in.  We forget that.  It's too easy to become accustomed to things.  But stop and think.  We have an immeasurable breadth of information available to us as quickly as it takes you to ask "How tall was Warren G. Harding?"  I can talk to my phone.  In fact, as I typed this, I asked my phone, which is sitting on the coffee table this very question.  Turns out the man was 6'0" and had an amazing middle name.

Sadly, though, in this day an age, the amount of misinformation grows at the same rate as legit info.  If not faster.

This is compounded by the fact that there are those among us who see Boogeymen everywhere.  This is not new.  We have seen an Enemy nearly as long as there have been people.  The sad fact is, though, there are some who have to see Boogeymen.  Because it's easier.  Because it helps them sleep at night.  Because it's easier to say that the Boogeyman is Holding Me Down than it is to try harder, think harder and work harder.

At the end of the day, you don't have to believe everything on Snopes.com.  In fact, you don't have to believe everything anybody says or writes.  It's good to have filters.  It's good to be skeptical.

I guess that's my point, standing up here on my Soapbox.  If you can find it in yourself to be skeptical about Snopes.com's intent and backing, then find it in yourself to be skeptical about the news story that FEMA is preparing coffins for some Illuminati-inspired calamity, or that Barry HUSSEIN Obama is looking to declare martial law to declare himself God King and Grand Poobah for Life of Americaland.

Another way I might say it:  Keep an open mind.  The fact of the matter is:  we all deal with a measure of confirmation bias.  We're in a difficult world with a lot of information being flung at us.  Sometimes, it's impossible not to look for something we agree with.  Still, take some time to read up on the opposing viewpoints.  Try to read some stuff by people you might disagree with.  Don't look only for the articles that agree that the Designated Hitter is bad.  Read the other stuff, if for no other reason than to de-boogeyman the argument.

In closing, the sentiment about walking away from the argument is strong.  It reminds me of one of my favorite lines that I am likely misquoting:  arguing with a fool is like wrestling with a pig: even if you win, the pig won't understand and just enjoyed the attention.

And remember:  there will always be some men you just can't reach....

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A proposal to the NBA

I don't watch the NBA.  I don't care for the NBA.  I haven't put a lot of thought into why I enjoy college basketball so much, but the NBA so little.  I haven't figured it necessary, and I just let that particular mystery be.

Still, it did not go unnoticed when Kevin Durant left his team in Oklahoma City to sign with the Golden State Warriors earlier this week.

I wasn't completely ignorant of the goings on of this last season, and did find myself some impressed with their regular season record.  It will make next season particularly interesting, to see if Durant's addition to the roster can make them an even better team.  There were folks on ye olde Facebooke wondering if the Warriors could run the table next season.  Win all 82.

It's unlikely as all hell, but the fact that it even pops up into consideration makes you wonder:  is this free agent signing the best for Basketball?

I've seen it written that four of the starters for the Warriors could easily lead a Western Conference All-Star team.  That this may be the best tandem of players ever put together, on paper, on one team, by a large margin.

I don't really have a dog in that hunt--I haven't watched the NBA regularly in at least 15 years, and probably closer to 20.  I watched all of two minutes the past season, that being the final two minutes of the Warriors/Cavaliers Finals Game 7.  I wouldn't know who to compare if I were in a conversation and would probably just smile and say Manute Bol a lot.

That just puts me in a good mood.  Say that out loud.  Wherever you are.

Manute Bol.

Elongate the U in the first name.

Manuuuuuuuuuuute Bol!!!!!!!!

Anyway.

What I'm getting at here is that, on paper, I couldn't argue that such a move would be best for the competitive balance of the league.  If you were an owner of a Western Conference team, I wouldn't begrudge you much at all for hollering.  I mean, sure, everybody likes that Underdog story, but when your team is on the wrong side of that signing, do you like your chances to win the Conference next year?

But let me ask you something.

What if we then gave the Warriors a handicap?

Here's what I propose:

I am offering myself up to the Golden State Warriors, to sign as a Free Agent for the 2016-17 season.

I am 39, and will turn 40 during the next season.

I couldn't tell you the last time I touched a basketball.

I'm 6'3" and heavyset.  I've got a shoulder that hurts when it gets cold outside.  I'm not sure I could run up and down a court more than twice before collapsing into a pile of sweaty laundry.  I hit myself in the nuts with cardboard boxes at work at least 3 times a year.

Mr. Commissioner.  Make the Golden State Warriors sign me.  Make them start me.  Make them play me at least 16 minutes a game.  I'll be the anchor of that team.  In a bad way.

Think of the attraction.  Four of the Greatest Players in the League, and Tommy Acuff!  Can Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson overcome perhaps the biggest lead weight ever put around the necks of an NBA squad?

I'm offering my services, most humbly.  I would play for the absolute minimum salary allowed (which would still be quite the substantial raise, let me tell you!).

I'll send you my resume.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

2016 Reading List

Just a listing of what I've been reading and/or listening to in the first half of this year:

January

Welcome to Night Vale    by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
Isaac's Storm    by Erik Larson

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams     by Stephen King

Faithful Place     by Tana French

February

McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories   edited by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay    by Michael Chabon

March

Patient Zero       by Jonathan Maberry

The Proud Tower      by Barbara Tuchman

The Sirens of Titan      by Kurt Vonnegut

April

The Cartel       by Don Winslow

The Dark Tower:  The Gunslinger      by Stephen King

Lovecraft Country       by Matt Ruff

The Serpent King     by Jeff Zentner

May

The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor

The Dark Tower:  The Drawing of the Three      by Stephen King

The Bully Pulpit           Doris Kearns Goodwin

A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever
          by Josh Karp

Geek Love        by Katherine Dunn

June

City of Mirrors        by Justin Cronin

True Grit        by Clinton Portis

Mayflower      by Nathaniel Philbrick

the Sex Lives of Cannibals     by J. Maarten Troost

The Union of the State      by Corey Stulce

-------

A couple of notes:

I made an attempt at David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest during February and March.  I made it a little less than halfway through before losing steam, and getting distracted by "real life."    2016 has been a rough year for working.  I joke about working like a botard sometimes.  We've been shorthanded for one reason or another it seems like this whole year.  Winter and Spring of this early year made reading more difficult than an Entertainment Weekly article daunting.  it was disappointing, because that part of the year was generally the easy part of the year, at least in terms of free time.  I'll give Jest another try, perhaps next year.

I also started, but didn't finish Joe Lansdale's Paradise Sky.  I may try again down the road.



One more Max picture

I wandered over to my folks' house yesterday.  My sister brought my nephew up.  His new name, he informed me, is Brickwood Doodoo, and he is from the Island Nation of Brickwood Dumb.  Update your fantasy lineups accordingly.

Anyway, I popped onto Mom's computer for a second, and she had this picture as her background:

The picture was taken in the last half of 2011.  Sally, the black dog on the right, had only a couple of years in her.  Max, of course, passed last month.

This is a good picture of them.  They were inseparable.

A good dog is a gift.  Mom and Dad were gifted twice.  Those two were the best.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Max

Maximus had to be put to sleep Friday.  He was 14.  His health had fallen off badly in the past couple of weeks--Mom thinks it was possible he had a stroke.  He was a good dog.  There have been a lot more tears the past couple of days than I'd have thought.  Given my work schedule, and the fact I live in an apartment, I don't have a dog.  Max was my folks' dog.  But, I thought of him as mine, too.

He grew up in a time of camera phone.  I have hundreds of pictures of him.  He was a photogenic cuss.

He was a good dog.

I've looked at the last one in line here, or some version of it, a couple dozen times in the past couple of days, and it makes me wan to cry every time.

Max was my buddy.  I'm gonna miss him.





Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dig

There isn't much that takes the shine off things like having to dig a grave for your dog.

He's not my dog.  He belongs to my parents.

I don't get to own a dog.  I'm not home enough.  It'd be cruel to keep one cooped up here.

So, I claim others' dogs.

Max is 14.  He's blind.  He's been falling down a lot.  Like I said, the folks will check to see if anything can be done.  But, he's been in some pain, so we may have to say goodbye.

Damn it.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Planet Hulk, and whatnot

I've had Age of Ultron on in the background this morning, as I've been cleaning.

The movie has a couple major flaws.  Gutting Black Widow's character is bullshit.  I'm not sure how you do that, except that you don't do that.  Her "They made me a monster" speech is abhorrent.  And it serves no purpose.  I choose to forget that entire section of this flick.  Comics have always allowed you to create your own canon.  I do in this case, as it regards Black Widow.

What has my attention here, though, is Hulk.

I've probably written about this before.  But I can't help but think what a lost opportunity this was for the character, and for Universal, who still owns the movie rights.

Let's look at the climax of the flick....Here there be spoilers, by the way.

The Avengers are looking to destroy Ultron's machine.  The story kinda telegraphs the whole Vision with Mjolnir taking out Ultron thing.  Why not add a level to that.  Thor calls for Vision.  Ultron knocks them both asunder.

Ultron is having his moment of glory.  Iron Man is yelling that somebody needs to take the shot from on top.

Have Hulk come bounding in.  He takes out Ultron's bot.  He gets Thor and Vision to safety...perhaps having Vision wake up to fly Thor.  Then, in a truly terrific moment, Hulk becomes worthy to heft the hammer because he is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.  He lifts Mjolnir, and destroys Ultron's machine.

And disappears.

The sting at the end of the credits will have Thor standing at Asgard, looking up, and having Mjolnir appear from the sky.  He will know The Hulk is out there somewhere.

In the meantime, you can have Universal put a kickass Planet Hulk movie together that would release this summer, as a bit of "meanwhile, on the other side of the Universe" twinbill with Captain America: Civil War.

And you can have Planet Hulk lead right into Thor Ragnarok.

I dunno.  I really love the Planet Hulk story from the comics.  I really think they could have done a lot more with Hulk and Black Widow.  Hell, with proper writing, you could have Black Widow go along with Hulk, and work Black Widow into that Planet Hulk story.  This way, you have a couple long standing characters sacrificing themselves for the team, instead of Quicksilver, who knew the team for all of a day and a half.....

That's a little selfserving, too.  I always liked the conflict within Pietro Maximoff in the comics, and think he's too good a character to just off.  Still, if memory serves, there's something in the whole deal with Fox, so that they might use Quicksilver in the X-Men movies as well...

Cubs 2016

Dear Online Nerd Diary:

This weekend, I went to Atlanta to see the Cubs play the Braves.  I've refrained from writing about the Cubs, out of irrational yet omnipresent fear that I am some manner of jinx if I mention them online.  My fears were somewhat assuaged after seeing them play live.

This was the last time I'll likely see them at Turner Field.  That's 99% assured, and assumes that the Braves don't reel off 90 wins out of their next 110 games to make it back into the playoff picture.

Allow me to speak on that:  it is sad to know that a perfectly good structure like Turner Field will be left to history (and local college teams) after just 21 years.  I may not be a Braves fan (I'm more of a well-wisher, owing to their geographic proximity and broadcast presence).  I have seen a ton of baseball at Turner Field, though.  It's a fine baseball stadium.  I don't know the issues.  It seems wasteful to let it go...even more so for tax payers up the road helping foot the bill for a new one.

That said?  One of the things over the past several seasons that has kept me from attending a Braves game on a whim is not wanting to drive through Atlanta.  Having the team play their games up in Marietta will be pretty sweet, from a drive-time standpoint.....

The Cubs were fun this weekend.  They lost Friday, a game I didn't get to see.  Saturday's contest, they won 8-2, on the strength of several dingers.  Today was a beatdown, 13-2, with almost everybody getting in on the act.

I'm crazy tired.  About 12 hours of driving over the last 2 days, on top of what was easily the most ridiculous week since the last ridiculous week.  I'm going to sleep for 10 hours tonight!!!!

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

We understand. You could make much more in a grocery store. And it would be good, steady work. 

Watching The Magnificent Seven tonight.  Haven't watched it in years.  Accidentally ordered it from Amazon.  I'd looked at the BluRay one night a couple weeks ago.  Then, went to order something else, and clicked through all the screens as irresponsibly as one could.

A couple days later, I got a note that my Amazon order with "The Magnificent Seven" and one other item had shipped.  Got worried that some sort of shenanigans was on.  The realized my error.

Anyway.  It was a good purchase, and a bit of a gift to myself and my addlepated mind.

Still, the conversation Chris and Vin have, convincing Vin to join Chris's little Fly-Shooing expedition, where the villagers assuage Vin's doubts....you could make much more in a grocery store...hit a little hard.

I've been down lately.  Work has a lot to do with it.  Tired.  Scheduling has gotten difficult.  I feel like I'm missing out on a lot more lately than even I did a few months back.  And I've felt like I've missed out on a lot the last handful of years.....

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tonight's Read

Tonight's read.  Popped up in some listicle or another.  Originated in a Clickhole list, as near as I am willing to search it out.

I dig that.

Wilmore is originally from Murfreesboro, by the way.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Happy birthday, Thomas!

This is Thomas.

He is my nephew.

He explained to me, in great detail, the workings of the Jurassic World tablet game he plays on his grandfather's tablet.  He is also on Level 50 of Angry Birds Transformers. (This is farther than I am).

He is 6 today.

He is endlessly impressive.  He is ceaselessly funny.  He's a goofball.  I like him.

Happy birthday to my nephew.

I got him Legos, because I'd kinda like to play with the Legos, too.

Them's the shakes.  But you play with the Legos all you want.  I'll always be there.

Maybe even for the Minecraft.  I don't pretend to understand.  But you run with it.