Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Got my ticket to Westworld

Rambling Post #345
I got my drink, my snacks, and my wrap although it's mid-April and it shouldn't be this damn cold anywhere in the state. Ah, but now children comes good television. Well, technically we already got some pretty good television, but extra good prime cut TV is back. That television version of that spot that has the good chicken, and the sides are the bomb. Even the tea is slammin. That spot. So 'scuse me while I get myself back up to speed her. 

Westworld is back. Kind of like Game of Thrones lite for those not up to speed. The sprawling cast of characters in show about a full size open world game returns to our screens with a brand new set of questions and let's keep you guessing along its non-linear story-lines worthy of bad semi-science fiction that answers to ratings and not story. It's only episode one and bam, you need to figure out just how cold blooded is the Deleos Corp? What does that one host have in its brain module that no other host has and why is it so valuable? How long until somebody figures out good ole Bernard is a host? Ford built an ocean and nobody noticed? What kind of foolishness did Ford leave for ex-Man in Black old William? Are all the WW hosts dead-dead, or just host-dead? What the hell do you mean - Park 6? And if you could fill in the blanks between that night and that beach, kay thanks. So many questions, so few episodes. 

By the way, one of the weird concepts I hear about over and over again in critiques and viewer opinions about Westworld is how the character Delores and the other hosts were defiled over and over again and thus are justified in a howling rage against the world, i.e., the guests and the staff of Westworld. One asks how could these guests and the staff have done those things, making them live through that torment over and over again? Let me venture and answer: Um, because they didn't know. Looking at the show as a whole, what Westworld was designed to be and the Wyatt subprogram that Delores is still running despite her being "free," a whole lot of people have gotten up in arms about how things look instead of how things are.

Let me state now, SPOILER THEORY ALERT or whatever, - I don't think Delores and them even make it out of the park this season. And I mean the Big park - Delos World or Delos Island or whatever it's called. There is a shot in the previews where host Hector, Mauve's bandito buddy, is shown in a modern setting - but nobody else is moving. My thinking is that besides WestWorld and SamuraiWorld (why not an historical fiction land for the massive Chinese market?), there is SafariWorld, or as it's referred to here Park 6, and three other parks we haven't seen yet, one of which holds a futuristic city - maybe from the source material its the much maligned FutureWorld. Just my thoughts

Back to my other thought - because someone is about to invoke the idea of not knowing you've caused pain as false absolution - If you've ever played a video game, how much respect to give an NPC, a Non Player Character? As the player, do you not slay the dragon? Punch the goblin? Obey the traffic laws in a game of GTA? Playing the game doesn't make the guests evil or dirty, it just makes them -- somebody playing a game? As far as the guests were concerned, the hosts were toys. Very sophisticated toys, but toys nonetheless. And the techs? Exactly how much deference do you give to what is essentially a piece of equipment? And as for seeing Delores as a woman unleashed, um, no, she already killed the two men directly responsible for her and all the other hosts(?) "torments". First Arnold, who went way beyond the original scope of what the park was supposed to be and created something magical - causing this sentience situation. Then Ford, who kept rolling the hosts back to lay the foundation for their eventual breakthrough. There were no other parties in the loop, and both of those situations were necessary to even get to this point of self-awareness. Further, if you pay close attention, there are only three "sentient" hosts - Delores, Mauve, and Bernard. All the rest are still running loops with the safeties off. Teddy had no idea what Delores was talking about. Hector is just tool for Mauve to use just as she was used. How are these characters better those they despise?

No, I'm not a Delos corporate PR guy.

People who shoot people in video games aren't evil. At least I don't think I am. And in the context of the show, to the guests and board members, this whole complex is just a super realistic 3D video game. Although it's fairly clear the farmer's daughter's "sidequest" featuring Delores was intentionally sadistic, it wasn't a required play through. I want the show to be about bigger issues too, but sometimes it's not. It's just a show.

Just to be honest, to me the show feels like it's missing something without Ford. To me half the fun of the first season was figuring out what the hell the old schemer was up to or whose side he was on. While everyone else ran around trying pull a fast one or three, Ford pulled the strings just enough to make them dance to a tune only he could hear. In retrospect it was beautiful. So, I guess this is the show's Ned Stark moment. Where the person who held the first season together goes out and then it gets...interesting?

And because I haven't even asked if the Chinese are coming back, what Mauve hopes to find when she locates the simulacrum that was her child in a former iteration, how the security chief survived, or if the new Delos guy even knew what Hale was up to, this could be a pretty good season. Hell, if they do it right, a pretty good show. As long as they've got most of the answers at the end of THIS season and not season 3.

Barkeep, let's give me the good whiskey and not whatever they used to serve in Sweetwater. Okay? 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #35
Sometimes it's not enough for a post...so it's just bar chatter. 

Maybe I wasn't paying attention, but that's on me. When exactly did every fifth post on Instagram become an ad?

Was it something I did? I will admit to two or three times actually clicking on an ad for something interesting - some shoes, a couple of pieces of art, the ring light for the phone so it can be used more like a studio, the stabilizer frame for a phone so it can be used like a movie camera (hey, I might want to shoot a film short. I'm an artist!) But an ad every fifth post is like watching something on a bad cable channel, where the commercial breaks in a 30 min show are somehow 4 minutes long.

And while my twitter is a mix of political, intellectual, news and the occasional bit of nonsense, my Instagram ain't that serious. I only give likes to the family and close friends I follow, and I use it mostly for laughs from memes. I made the mistake of liking something else once. Won't be doing that again. No sir, not me.

So, where is the button that tells Instagram I'm just a window shopper? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Madness of March

It hearkened so merrily
Give unto us the rites of spring
with thy Madness of March
dribble dribble shot
oh look at that dunk
oh look at that three
didn't he walk?
We scream at the TV 
as though they can hear us
and they better listen
we pick our brackets
our trusty brackets
brackets crafted with care and love
in two minutes
because I've never heard 
of some of these sacrificial lambs
so we shall laugh 
and cry and lo
for this means spring has sprung
oh thankies from my power bill
I'm sorry you misspoke
who beat Virginia?
they are a No. 1 seed 
surely you jest
No. 16 University of Maryland-Baltimore County?
Not even the main campus?
that's not a community college?
Madness indeed
who would have thought
who would have dreamed
so it would seem
Arizona has lost as well
oh hell. 
And down the rabbit hole we go
fate dealing brackets body blows
But my picks fear no such turn
for I plucked from the muddy tides of the future
UNC as my champion
and even they be nigh victorious
they'll make the elite eight
final four for they are great
and the pool shall be mine
lest someone pick by mascot
or uniform color

Monday morning
brackets torn asunder
picks lay strewn like cut grass
oh my poor picks! 
faulty, futile, foolhardy
kicked in the ding ding by fate
felled by Texas A&M
and Loyola
I know a guy named Xavier
why couldn't you be that cool Xavier?
Everybody knew Cincy was lunching
now they're worth punching
UNC felled as I slept
All the pool money gone
a brother wept
Sweet sixteen my ass
Who ever ranked these teams
was just playing
That's all I'm saying
Tis done
we've all seen better days,
Hey, can we get a do-over?
They wasn't going to class noways

Bracket just...done.

Friday, March 16, 2018

And so, they go...

"There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope".
~ Stephen Hawking (or at least the guy who played him in the movie)

In what will surely be one of my more convoluted posts, I'm going to honor two men who recently passed who couldn't have been more different: noted physicist Stephen Hawking and rap legend Craig Mack, who sadly passed around the same time. Two from a time when talent got you everywhere you wanted to get to.

Seriously though, Stephen Hawking did put some brand new flava in ya ear.

See what I did there?

I'm going to start with Professor Hawking, who a few years ago agreed to appear on the Big Bang Theory and insisted on delivering his own lines and not having them recreate his electronic voice. When you consider it takes sometimes an hour for him to compose a sentence, it was an enormous commitment on his part. And he made the most of it, much funnier than I expected. For a man who was supposed to die before I was born and who lived everyday trapped in his own mind, he had a cracking sense of humor. But then I guess he had enough time to make the inside of his mind rather nice, so maybe we were all the ones being left out.

As you may have guessed, I didn't know Stephen Hawking personally. But from a wheelchair in a frail body in need of constant care he changed our understanding of the universe we live in. He picked up where Einstein left off. Those who did know him called him engaging, funny and brilliant - from tales of nights in dive bars to extraordinary work in the lab. Because despite the more esoteric nature of his work, it is those understandings which contribute to the continued existence of the human race. And by that I mean things involving items not of this planet that in time will effect this planet. Good stuff. He funked the world...

Yes, that is an odd and awkward segue here...

Craig Mack is however, for us old heads. One of the original Bad Boy artists, the inimitable Craig Mack was a genius of rap in '94 of a kind of rap that artists have kept pretending to discover ever since. His freestyle free verse rap, unlike the story telling style of the contemporaries, consisted of songs that made more sense if you just let the lyrical word play shine through. The intelligence of the rhyme, the patter, smoothness was undeniable. A wicked talent for improvisation along with fat beats made for quite the combination in an age where every song had to have resonance.

But while his single “Flava in Ya Ear” became the label’s first hit, at least to me, he was unceremoniously buried by his label mate the Notorious B.I.G. whose banger of an debut album Ready to Die was released first. The scant few DAYS, not weeks between that musical avalanche  and Mack's Project: Funk da World album release effectively knocked Mack out out the hype he'd started. We remember B.I.G. as an icon, but we have mostly forgotten the artist who was the first to walk away from Puffy's music machine. Mack became a legend more what he could have become than for what he did.

Hawking and Mack have things common. You wonder what these men would have accomplished had they been able to run free in their prime. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Going to the Movies...maybe.

Rambling Post #344
I like movies. As you may have read if you read anything about my past, like on this blog, yeesh, I've written a few scripts and have a few story ideas of my own. And one day, lord willing and the creek don't rise (and I can scrape together a few hundred bucks I don't owe anyone) I'm going to make something. Technically the few hundred bucks if for some good lunches and one of those director chairs, but a man has to have standards.

I caught the trailer for "Sorry to Bother You" this past weekend, and I'm interested. It's a film out this summer starring Lakeith Stanfield from the hot show Atlanta and Oscar nominee Get Out.

Yes this looks silly, but then that's on purpose.

I found the trailer both incredible and troubling. It was incredible in that it looks like a pastel infused explosion of just on the edge of reality semi-ideas, that's been dropped in a blender with generous dash of ridiculous, served through a sugar straw with a side of that sticky icky icky. It looks fresh, different, as if it touches on social issues and yet is still just plain funny. And troubling because once again, it looks like Hollywood has shown us the whole damned movie in two minutes. The trailer looks like it shows everything but the end! I think I know most of the story at this point - Down and out guy, love life and home life rocky. Gets job. Discovers secret to job. Advances up the ladder using the secret. More money, different problems. Guy has to make a decision about his life and...profit? (Sorry, underpants gnomes joke there.)

I can't be the only one this irks the crap out of.

The premise looks interesting. The hero Cassius, who lives in his uncle's garage is desperate to get something started. He lands a telemarketing job and learns very quickly from a co-worker that to be successful he needs to find his "white voice." If you're not a minority, you're probably not familiar with the concept of a particular voice for a particular situation, but this is a very real thing. the white voice he finds - which you hear in the trailer - is the whitest. And from there, things take off. Along the way to wherever this is supposed to go, the hero meets a broad and eclectic cast of characters on a trip through a only slightly weird version of the world of the average professional. Kinda.

Express yourself
Now, I've watched enough movies with insane premises - I used to watch a lot of late night TV and at one point USA had a show called Up All Night which made you wonder if you were hallucinating as a young teen. This film looks like something from someone who watched a lot of TV like that, but still has a social conciseness. And if they don't that's okay too.

Promotion Time.
Let's go to the movies. Well, maybe. Let's see how this all plays out. I am excited though.

Barkeep. I'll have whatever the man in bowler hat is drinking. Yes, I'm a bit scared, but you only live once.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Who hath wrought this winter?

I sit, cold. 
cause it's cold outside
which runs my heating bill up inside
keeping me in one room
I snggle into my blanket, 
a room cold save a space heater that hums
hums in a steady drone that soothes and hypnotizes
and provides a warmth
it said it would on the label
and I am warmed
under blanket, sheet, and other sheet
semi warm
enough to make me tarry in my morn
moving from warm bed to hot shower
seeking warm embrace
did I shave?
oh that water too cold
I'll grow a beard instead
heat on in my car
Just gets warm enough when I finally get to work. 
I long for the heat heat
like the summer sun 
which gleefully beats down upon my soul during a long walk
that saps the strength and makes my sheets soak with my body dew
which makes me sweat from breathing
ah, glorious
let the glorious man juice
my essence
pour from my armpits
did I use deodorant? 
I do so love me some heat
but now I sit, cold. 
I sit, cold
layered up
undershirt, shirt, sweater, jacket and scarf
that is quite jaunty
fashion forward
but still nippy with that bit of wind full of chill, 
my skin bits exposed
where my not quite summer body
its work in progress, work with me
where my not ever quite summer body
slips from it's coverage 
and the cold seeps in 
like stiff gravy
like molasses
like something cold that moves slow and sticks with you for a while
which keeps me in the house
against the blustery weather
not that I go outside a lot in the heat
but it's the heat damnit
I do so love me some heat
but now I sit, cold. 

Who hath wrought this winter off of backorder?