Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Where you been?

Ramblings Post #353 
There should be something here, something smart and quippy that kind of sets the tone for the writing below. Nah, not this time. It is what it is. I is tired.

It's been a minute since I been doing this, so what happened? I've been doing nothing and  everything. A little bit of something and whole lot of time wasting. I have determined that sitting on my couch in the silence of my house is just plain relaxing.

I may have to get a recliner.

My days at "the Ranch" have become an adventure. Everyday a new bronco to bust, a fresh forty acres to tame, somebody who can't read a simple email. They just keep adding layers and duties up in this piece, and you keep wondering what's really going on. I have a long history of "falling into" pulling more than weight on whatever spread I end up on just because that's how it all falls out. Doing management things and making management decisions on a peon salary because no one else wants to step up and I have this impediment called a good work ethic and desire to always do my best. I went to law school to place myself in a position to avoid these types of setups and endgames, but this is starting to look pretty damned familiar.

Admittedly this time it's part of a larger overall plan, but still.

I've been thinking about it and the one exciting thing I've done this summer is -- work. Just work. That situation along with the legendary Atlanta traffic and a personal ennui makes the very idea of doing much productive a struggle. I'm not stuck writing, I mean I have the story outlined, I know clearly what I want to say, I'm just not writing it. I'm working out a bit, but not anywhere near enough. I need to take mine ass to the driving range and hit some balls, but that would involve doing something, so that's out. I need to clean up my house, but I keep finding reasons not to like, um, I have to look at something in the mirror, or the couch needs sitting on, or my personal fave, if I go in another room I can't see it's still junky. I have a stack of very stylish shirts with some of the weakest button-work in history on my ironing board awaiting a pressing. I just need a spark to get going, to get get back into the groove. To hit my grind hard again.

Now, my summer use to be a bevy of social events, house parties and street festivals as well as nights out finding new spots to waste time in. But with age comes new priorities - friends get married and have kids, kids get older, the music gets weirder, and the clubs start letting in people who don't realize Will Smith or Ice Cube had a rap career. My summer is now quiet nights at home, reading, halfway trying to exercise, writing as much as you can without actually writing anything, playing computer games (PC and PS4) and doing everything but what I need to be doing. I should be....

...seizing life. But right this moment, I don't know.

Barkeep, can I get a,... what? You need to see my ID? Are you kidding me? 

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Blues Brothers? Sh*****it they still owe you money fool!

Aretha: We got two honkies out there dressed like Hasidic diamond merchants

Matt: What you mean?

Aretha: They look like they're from the CIA or something.

Matt: What they order?

Aretha: The tall one wants white toast, dry, with nothin' on it.

Matt: Elwood.

Aretha: And the other one wants four whole fried chickens and a Coke.

Matt: Jake. 

That scene from the Blues Brothers is quite honestly my favorite version of Aretha Franklin. She's a woman who built something that she's proud of, ain't about to take no shorts, and loves her man enough to sing to him to get his mind right. Matt 'Guitar' Murphy still rides off with the aforementioned Blues Brothers, but it was a very good showing for her in a small choice role.

But one of my most indelible memories of Aretha is her appearance on the initial episode of a show called VH1 Divas. I say initial episode like it I watched the series, but seriously I don't know if there was ever a second episode, because after the finale of the first one there was no point in doing it again. The show was supposed to be a showcase of the true divas of modern music brought together for one magical night. The network brought out talented heavyweights like Celine Dion and Mariah Carey along fabulous vocalists Shania Twain, Gloria Estafan and the legendary song writer Carole King. The icing on that musical master class however was the one and only Aretha.

The finale was supposed to feature all the singers sharing a single stage, singing a single song - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, actually written by Carole King. It was supposed to be all harmony and solidarity. But that's not what happened. Once they all got out there, Aretha took over and turned some of the best pop and R&B singers in the world into her back-up group. To her credit, Shania Twain didn't even pretend she was the lead singer. I understand that if you watch the tape that you can see Gloria Estafan actually put her mic down. Celine actually had the audacity to step up like she was gonna do something. Riffing, scatting and putting her touch of soul on the song long associated with her, those women knew and instead of being insulted at the end even they applauded the Queen as the audience cheered.

Listening to Aretha gives chills at times. Her voice was electric, magical, and had an ability to touch a person's soul if she wanted it to. From singing ditties about love with the Blues Brothers to filling in for Pavarotti to singing at the inauguration of the first black president (like anyone else could do it), she was quite frankly the best. Period.

We will miss you Aretha Franklin. We all will.

The Queen of Soul.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

This week on "President..."

This is a political post. 

I haven't been watching this season. What happened?

Is Congress out of the coma yet? Did the VP admit he thought about another woman? Did President reveal he's really the evil twin? What dangerous game are Jared and Ivanka playing? Will Melina's terrible secret finally be revealed?

Wait, what really happened? At the summit in Helsinki when asked about foreign meddling in the 2016 elections, President took the word of what is essentially our enemy over his own intelligence groups on the grounds that those intelligence groups don't like him. No seriously, that's the basis. This is a character who thinks the press is lying, Obama is lying, Mueller is lying, Hillary is lyaing, all the intelligence agencies are lying, all his accusers are lying, but good ole boy Putin speaks the truth? Really? Is he the evil twin?  No, wait after the break he's saying he misspoke although the words he said that he misspoke repeatedly aren't really the kind you mess up. Damn writers. 


One of the funniest parts of watching a trashy TV show like "President" isn't actually the show itself. The show itself is kinda cringy, with weak half-written characters, unfinished story arcs, and a meandering theme that seems like it's half improv. No, like a any other great series that's half off it's rocker and reached the point where it's just fucking with the audience, it's built up a terribly rabid fan base that practically drools whenever it comes on. And like devotees of Real Housewives, Cop Rock and Heil honey, I'm home before it, they practically turn themselves inside out, throwing facts to the wind, contradicting themselves and telling you green is purple trying to make sense of it all. They're ready to  cut a deal with the devil (or Jeff Bezos, or whatever he's calling himself these days) to get you to believe this show is fantastic. No, the fun of watching a show like this is those fans try to explain why each loopy turn is somehow sheer genius.

One of President's ardent fans said he was strong, and another quipped that obviously Mexico had meddled more in our election than the Russians. Meanwhile the Soviet version voice over of President has a laugh track. I was really waiting for one of them to say that "we dont' get the nuances of Cheeto's performance, because what he's doing is subverting your expectations and deconstructing the presidency." People say things like that when they want to sound smarter than you and don't want you to understand they said that. But then we're talking about President's fans, not exactly a crowd given to nuance.

I keep hoping it's all the work of some shameless writer locked in a hotel room somewhere, drunk on Glenfiddich, Adderall and heart worm medicine. I really do. How does this keep getting renewed?   

I'd like to remind "the network" that sometimes there is value in slow, well directed, subtle drama. If I wanted this kind of foolishness we could have just let Cookie and Lucious be Co-Presidents. I least we'd have gotten a few songs out of it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

World Cup, France, what a game.

Ramblings Post #352
Sport brings people together. We've known that in the South for years. It's place where a black male can have free reign to do pretty much whatever the hell he wants...provided he wins on Saturday (or Friday if you live in small enough town.) And it's nice to see that sport binds us all worldwide, it is interesting to find out that the same self mental trickery is just as constant. 

I think this was the first time I ever actually watched the World Cup. You know, the rest of the world's version of the Superbowl. Only bigger.

I played futbol (soccer) up through my formative years if you can believe it. Back before I discovered beer and cheez doodles I used to play center half, a position that could run up to six miles during a game. Ah, where the did the time go. Soccer really is a beautiful game...to play. To watch it is pretty much crap. Even for some one like me, who knows the game - and still plays it with Football Manager 13', 14' and 15' (the last couple seasons have just been window dressing honestly). So to sit down and actually watch it was different. I work with people who save up and go - and I think one guy at the ranch actually flew over to see a game live. Maybe. 

In any case it wasn't bad. Like a regular game it was fast at times, slow at times. I hated the ref. I screamed at the screen. I watched a good portion of it. Up until Kylian Mbappé scored France's fourth goal. At that point anyone expecting a Croatian comeback was looking for a repeat of the Patriots-Falcons fiasco. Twice in one lifetime? Probably not.

So congrats France. With your whole team full of immigrants. And Muslims. Who you supposedly don't want in your country.

No seriously. Congrats.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Five minutes watching The Incredibles 2

I don't watch a lot of movies. I don't really have time. And I go to the movies even less. Something about Sporty, but that's a whole other issue. So the rarity of which I go, means on average I've spent about five minutes watching every movie made. It's an existential thing, don't concentrate on it.

I've noticed that this blog is becoming very pop culture oriented as of late, partly because I'm trying not run up my blood pressure spending an hour a day ranting about politics - and an hour would be cutting it short - and partly because my social calendar is currently on back alley life support. But in the meantime, I saw The Incredibles 2. And I'm feeling some kind of way about it.

Maybe it's that it took 14 years for less than 10 seconds to pass, or maybe I wanted the fight with the Underminer to last longer, or that the start of it causes one or two continuity questions that took me out of the flow for the first few minutes. Exactly how long was it in the first film between when they beat Syndrome and Dash's track meet? But as soon as that part fell away and the film got back to what made the original such a great story - superheroes as people not archetypes - it picked up immensely. The dialogue is crisp, funny and on point, the music was reminiscent of the first in it's coolness and the visuals are just well, incredible. I was a little leery at first when they trotted out the old role reversal trope - Incompetent Dad learns About his own kids - but it works here.   The kids are the kids - Violet is "having an adolescence" and Dash needs less sugar, but the best character in the whole film is baby Jack-Jack, who just keeps things bopping along. 

But the film makes me think about things not really film related. The first film fresh and new, but also in a way fairly typical. While the whole family was well thought out and had roles important to the story, it felt like Mr. Incredible was the focus. We met him first, followed his career from hero to insurance company drone, tagged along with he and Frozone freelance heroing, in his first foray to the island, working out, going to see Edna, meeting the villain. Bob is a prisoner in the secret hideout before the family dynamic even really starts to unfold. And we didn't really think about it because that's what we're used to seeing. But here, the story takes it's first turn when their benefactor chooses Elasti-girl as the new face of heroism. Just for insurance reasons he assures Bob, but he chooses her nonetheless.

And which point the film turns its focus to Elasti-girl and never really lets go. New bike, new costume (for which Edna is gonna kick her ass when she sees her) and new adventures centered on the female hero, not the male. It's as though they anticipated the mood of the country. Bob struggles with new math, Helen saves the day. Bob watches the baby. Helen devises a plan. Bob struggles with advising about teen age relationships, Helen goes on a mission. To his credit despite his deep need to be in action gnawing at his insides, Mr. Incredible rises to the occasion of being supportive and just being a plain ole dad. The film feels like it reverses the original, with long stretches of Helen and the occasional check in on Bob. It makes me wonder why I my initial thought was that's odd, when it really isn't and shouldn't be. Elasti-girl is the star - deal with it.

I mean, I enjoyed Wonder Woman, and the men played sidekicks if not just background fodder for Diana's actions. There have been the occasional drama I've sat through where the men were more scenery than characters that were pretty good. A woman focused film is not that unusual, at least not among the stuff I enjoy. I've parsed through my thoughts on this: I expected more Mr. Incredible because... he was the lead in the first film? I have a cultural bias? A film that's not explicitly about women should feature men more prominently? I'm a wee bit sexist? Maybe a little bit of all of the above. But at least I'm aware of it. I think.

So other than a few continuity issues at the beginning, I thought it was well paced, with slower periods that allowed the characters to act like people and not just a constant series of explosions or twist thrown at you ever ten minutes to keep things interesting. It's a film I thought was never going to happen, it was all interesting dammit. The returning characters were great - Edna is still one of my faves, and the new characters have possibility. I like them. I wonder if they realize now there HAS to be a third one? This one though, it's long but good, but if you don't like the characters or enjoy watching them grow, it's gonna seem like forever. But I think you'll like watching them grow. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

And that theory gets shot to hell...

Ramblings Post #351
The internet is a glorious thing. Let's hope it stays that way. But while we have it, this place where everyone gets a say and you too can be a star if you package it right (I don't, let's be honest. It's all video now.) And the things you find. Involving shows on the television. I swear I think a few of these people examining these shows is all they do. They got clips from last season, screenshots, everything. It's wild. I love it so much it hurts. Less dreaming up crazy theories for me to do.

Warning, this thing is all SPOILERS for last episode of Westworld. And lots of cursing too, ha ha.

Westworld you sly dog. I could have sworn that Emily was there to take the Man In Black's spot when old Ed Harris decided he'd plumbed the role to it's depths. She'd tracked him down across the huge play area, twice, which William found as absolutely unbelievable we did. But then she's supposedly took the time learn the park in ways her father didn't, learning languages, being able to tell arrows, so that's a maybe. And Emily seemed just as capable but just unstable enough that with the dark rider gut shot she could step in when he either died or was airlifted off in an epilogue shot in the season finale. But then William, convinced his daughter is a host sent by Ford to fuck with him, because its all about the game damnit, pops a cap in her ass. Well damn. Is she dead? Like dead for real dead. I mean, that was his real damn daughter. Wasn't it?

The face of man who just realized it's not all about him.
He really has been in the park too long.

Wait, where is William after the real Delos actually shows up? Yes, the real Delos, go watch the conspiracy videos on YouTube you filthy casuals! I mean, once the Delos SWAT team shows up and confirms him with one of those high value cards or neck swipers or whatever, getting William out should be one of their top priorities, damn whatever Charlotte Hale says. After all, there ain't no board no more, it's just William, damn what you heard. Or do they find him at the Forge in the finale, and then airlift him out? He was hit square in the chest people. Even if that juice he was drinking at the rally point is filled with body fixing nanobots, or was a guava-cocaine-morphine get your ass right smoothie, he still needs time to heal.

Insane theory of the week: is Charlotte really Arnold's daughter? Um, no. While we don't know how much of Bernard's son dying was bullshit and how much was based on a real thing that happened, this doesn't work. She didn't recognize the amazing resemblance of Bernard to what would have been her deceased dad - after all there would have been pictures. And they've interacted way too much for her not to see it if it was there or ask about relations. This guy at the park I help run looks exactly like my dead dad? No big. Sorry, but she's just a woman with an agenda that includes selling out her employers. Again, watch the Westworld conspiracy vids, yeesh!

And if they don't stop raking Bernard over the coals. Ford stuck himself in the back of Bernard's head for safekeeping, and was using old boy to take care of these last loose ends, a bit of code here, a slight adjustment there. But Bernard has just about turned into a actual trick. He told Elsie he wouldn't lie to her and finally told us what the Valley Beyond actually held - the aforementioned Forge - perhaps realizing she was still going to turn on him anyway. Which by the way makes him a fairly faithful copy of Arnold, who saw the nobility in self sacrifice. And what exactly does he plan to do when he gets to the Forge to secure it against what he has to still believe is Delores' murdering herd. He ain't got no weapon and don't want to hurt nobody. I hope the Forge's got a phone.

Note: Whatever does happen, Arnold gets from the Forge to the beach where Delos SWAT picks him up at the end of this. So we should get to see the Forge before whatever it is that happens and again because they're headed back there in "now." And I think that the Forge is where Ford built the ocean in the first episode, the one they're currently draining, because I think that would have been the FIRST thing Delos would be checking into when they got there. It's the whole point of the resort isn't it? So did Ford or Bernard flood it to protect it? Or destroy it? And did they succeed?   

By the way, Elsie's reaction to finding out she really worked at Evil Corp probably should have been more pronounced. Even in the heat of the moment like that. At least Bernard abandoning her in the middle of nowhere means she'll see season three. Maybe.

Off the wall ideas: Did Ford give Mauve instructions on how to transfer herself despite the cradle having been destroyed? I wouldn't have put it past Ford to build a second smaller hidden cradle - a back up to the back up of the back up - for just such an emergency. He's quite the schemer. Or maybe she is able to shift to the Forge. Or then again, maybe he has a way to turn the old body constructing machine from season one back on for one last go? In the previews for next week it looks like she's back on her feet and kicking ass again, so something's up.

And finally Delores. I'm sorry for those cheering her on, but she's the villain in this piece right now. More than ole shifty Charlotte, or the unhinged William, more than Delos Corp in general, really more than anyone else in this piece. Her philosophy of "we need to wage this war to survive but not all of us deserve to get to survive" wore thin right quick for me. It came across as cult leader hogwash minus the charm or brilliance. As much as she argued for some twisted sense of freedom and retribution to atone for what had happened to her over the years, she was far too willing to sacrifice every other host around her to get to it. And I'm glad Teddy finally told her that to her face. Then shot himself for emphasis.

Good ole Teddy. No, you weren't like THEM.

Now, if they could just avoid ending it like Lost, where half the questions (75%) of the questions they posed never got answered. I say two more seasons and let's wrap this puppy up before ya'll do something stupid.

Barkeep, some tea. And a cucumber sandwich. I need thinking food. Yes, I realize this is a bar.      

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Have I got a bargain for you!

This a political post. 

"I may be wrong, I mean I may stand before you in six months and say, 'Hey I was wrong.' I don't know that I'll ever admit that, but I'll find some kind of an excuse."
~ Cheeto

Are we sure that Cheeto was even on television? I mean, the production of a television show is usually a long process, involving an enormous numbers of steps: multiple meetings, pitches, development, staging, revisions and rewrites, editing, etc. Does he know that? Are we sure Cheeto ever did an actual business deal? Usually a large business deal, especially one that involves millions of dollars, involves enormous numbers of steps: multiple meetings, evaluations and reports, negotiations, legalities, etc,  before anything can be squared away. Or did Cheeto just watch a lot of television? Because on television redoing the floors in you living room and kitchen take thirty minutes and you can fire the board and take control of the company simply by yelling it angrily in dramatic lighting. In real life, redoing the floors takes days and you can't even do the second. And on television, sure you can defang a brutal dictator of a repressive state armed with nuclear threat in one meeting if you can scrounge up three pounds of fresh crab meat, a two way mirror, fifty feet of fishing line, some dry ice and one of those Mission Impossible face masks.

Cheeto wants us to believe that he's solved the North Korea issue that has lasted 60 years in ONE meeting. They're no longer a threat he announces. This from a meeting which produced a "comprehensive agreement" that is all of ONE page that entitles the parties to a free ice cream, no, wait...um, to meet again? That's it? The man who paid someone to write the Art of the Deal sat down with a kid and got no guarantees of nuclear disarmament, no process to get there or even a framework, no timetable on the non existent process, no agreement to how an agreement if one is reached would be verified, no concessions, essentially nothing. And in return... is easing off the military pressure by blindsiding an ally and then talking about lifting sanctions. For a promise from a country that practically specializes in deception. Cheeto likes Kim. Thinks he's a fine fellow. Did I characterize that right? I did.

In television terms he wants us to believe turned what should be...and will be...a three season arc or perhaps a whole series by itself into a B-plot of 30 minute episode. I don't even want to bring into that he did this on heels of asking for his boss, um, I mean, asking that Putin's Russia be readmitted to the G-7 before he shot our allies the deuces and broke out early. Then had the audacity to tell us everything was copacetic while the countries who stood with us against communism since World War II gave him the global side-eye. If the fate of the world wasn't at stake I'd think this was a remake of that James Franco/Seth Rogan picture, the one that set off the North Korean cyber-attacks. Wait, did they even discuss cyber-attacks at this meeting?

And now like a used car salesman he's telling you what a great a deal you got, that you don't need a warranty, and he's throwing in the floor mats for free. Damn his manager. This is fishy as hell. 

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that Cheeto gets along great with dictators and tyrants and continually pisses off our allies? If you voted for Cheeto, was THIS, all of THIS, what you wanted? Really?  

Monday, June 11, 2018

Just Cause 4 what?

Ramblings Post #350
It is a downright crying shame that in this day and age of insane visuals and renders in modern game play that I still spend the majority of my time engrossed in the not particularly visually friendly, always frustrating and constantly in need of a tweak Dwarf Fortress. My latest fortress has me trying to stave off mass PTSD (I"m trying to see if letting the dead bodies rot away before moving the remains from the battlefield minimizes the effects to the non-military dwarves). And yet I find doing that more stimulating than finishing up Just Cause 3, which I bought on DAY ONE

I actually tracked down a copy of Just Cause 2. Seriously. I went to like five stores in Atlanta to get one. And it is one of the greatest games ever built. A huge campaign area with vast highways, jungles, cities, villages and military bases to raid. There was the space ship launch facility, the night club in the sky, the mysterious island, a snow hill run, nuclear subs, and it just kept getting more and more over the edge. Okay, taking the campaign bases got repetitive after a while, but that almost became an afterthought as you traveled through deserts, swamps, broke naval blockades, leapt off mountains, ducked through cities, raced speedboats and flew jets. It was the kind of game that was just this side of perfect. So, when Just Cause 3 was announced I was sure that what they'd done was just worked out those last few kinks on their way to building something magical. 

Boy, do you want to talk about disappointment.

At first I was like wow, then I was well, then I was like waah! That last one is me crying. What came out was what happens when you try to be extra, but forgot what made the original (or in this case the second one) work so well. I'm not even sure if the makers understood what made it so great. Part of the joy of JC2 was the campaign was integrated into the play area, making it feel interesting. The map was expansive but made sense, the villains just enough but not too crazy. It felt organic. All that went away with JC3. The military bases looked like something out of a James Bond film, the troops seemed cartoon, the missions too long or just ridiculous. And while I didn't mind the arcade features of something like Far Cry 3, because they weren't integral to the gameplay, the number of times you go back and blow something up for "funsies" or to earn a new toy in JC3 ruined the immersion.

And the map. Lord the map. While yes, flying a jet from one end of Panau to the other in JC2 could take 10 minutes, but the map didn't feel too big. And there was always something to do there. In JC3, there are whole sections of the map with no bases, no villages, no hidden goodies, no...nothing. Maybe I missed something but damn. I finally just stopped playing, which has me messed up because now I feel funny starting anything else on the PS4 because the game isn't finished.

Which brings us to Just Cause 4. With tornadoes, and lush jungles and...just stop. My understanding is that JC3 was intended to be something else - a more social game online affair rife with micro-transactions and shared achievements. And then they blinked because that really isn't a Just Cause thing, or it tested poorly or something, went back and stripped all of the money parts out and we were left with...that. My question is, with JC4, did they go through with it this time? Because I can just replay Just Cause 2 again. Seriously.

Barkeep. Maybe I don't want to play a game with 400 of my internet friends, then what? My order? Can't you see I'm trying to unload some thoughts here? Obviously that means gin.  

Friday, June 8, 2018

He was a good guy....

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain (1956 - 2018)

Anthony Bourdain looked to me like a guy I used to work with. A guy who explained one night, while we were out some place God knows where doing God knows what, that he had to stop drinking because "there are too many jurisdictions between here and my house." Anthony Bourdain reminds me of him - a little rough around the edges, but when he spoke he sounded like an old friend. I liked Bourdain. Mostly because he proved that you could get paid to travel and eat, and you didn't have to always go the end of the earth to do it.

A storyteller who ended up cooking for a living, then writing a book about what really happens in the kitchen and getting famous for it, Bourdain was something special. His voice melodic, his interest genuine. He was a guy that took his fame and didn't just indulge in it, he tried to in his own way to make the world a little bit better. His cooking shows weren't about cooking, but about the people in those places that made the food, be it the a kitchen in Cambodia or Boise, ID. And he didn't think you had spend a ridiculous sum of money on something for it to taste good, it just had to be authentic. He made eating interesting. 

My favorite fact about him is on his show Parts Unknown he traveled to Charleston, SC and while there, a couple of drinks in,  he visited one of the many outposts of that late night life line, the Waffle House. Yes,  the same Waffle House where the steak with sides is less than $10 and you can get your hashed browns like 1,000 different ways. And he loved it.   

Oh, and he like Archer. I love Archer.

Mr Bourdain, I don't think the world will be the same now that you're gone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

So, We're doing this AGAIN? AGAIN! Ugh, whatever...

Ramblings Post #349
I don't follow the NBA like I used to. I used to know squads, coaches, and who could beat who based on which player had the advantage or whatever. Now I'm just like ugh, this again. I can watch a game or five, I know who the players are but I don't follow it follow it. And the Finals used to mean something. Before it got into reruns. 

First, let me say that the entire NBA Eastern conference should be ashamed that the Cavs are back in the Finals. It basically says that you can put together a team in mid-season, add in one or two top tier players and beat that whole half of the league. A half with theoretically at this point, good teams. A few assembled teams of potential hall of famers. Seriously. I mean, damn...the Celtics were so close. But the NBA Eastern conference needs wake-up call.

Don't be mad at me, it ain't like I made this.
And on the other side, the Rockets damn sure didn't make it easy. I kind of figured they might have catch the Warriors a bit overconfident or on a down night, and as such they came with it. That was good basketball. Right this moment however, there is just too much horsepower in that Golden State line-up that if there is the slightest misstep, that's all she wrote. Hey Rockets! Almost, but you gotta be quicker than that.

Which leaves us with this. Again. Warriors vs. Cavs. Like damn. I mean the sports journalists have to be pissed about this shit. Content-wise you know that they're scraping the bottom of the barrel here looking for those fresh puff pieces to pad out the series hype. They're about to start talking about second cousins and high school friends. I at one point hoped for a completely fresh Rockets-Celtics match-up, just to keep things interesting, but would have settled for a Warriors-Celtics battle. Anybody but the Cavs.

No, I'm not a fan of LeBron now that you mention it. But if you've been here before I think you know that. 

Now to be clear, off the court I understand he's an exemplary individual. Charitable, happily married, good to his kids, invests wisely, not a gambler, doesn't eat pizza with a fork, not a horrible actor, all those things that might make one remark that hey, he's okay fella if asked to comment. Let me not impugn the man's character or savvy. On the court however, if you took a drink every-time he looked at the ref for a call you'd be blitzed midway through the second quarter. It's that he's one of the best, if not the best, on the court right now but he still needs even more an advantage outlook that just irks me. I don't think any ref in the game who values his ability to blow a whistle would let anything bad happen to Bron-bron. He is entirely too valuable to the league as a whole. So knowing this, and you know he knows it, why ask for even more?  

I guess the big question is if this particular cast of background players can support the King while he tries for glory against the NBA's best current super-team? I guess it could be a question. I mean TV is going to need an angle. Not to disparage the abilities of people who get paid huge sums of money to play basketball (Yes, that is a touch of jealousy in my voice.) And while Finals parties are a thing of yesteryear at least for my age bracket, something new would have been interesting.

Hey, at least the undercards all got to seven games.

Yes, Bartender, I am grasping at straws here, work with me. Beer. What kind? Um, cold. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I'm just talking about Westworld

Ramblings Post #348
Good TV makes you sit down and watch. You might have scheduled it, or however we do it nowadays, but you pay attention. You look at it take the familiar tropes and shine them up all new. No, it's not new TV, but damn if it don't look it. It makes you think about things that most TV doesn't, about things in the bigger picture, even when it's focused on something that on it's face looks stupid. That's good TV. Or least, that's what it's supposed to be.

“Arnold and I designed every part of this place. It was our dream. Did you really think I would let you take it from me?”
~ Robert Ford

Shogun World. Doesn't really roll off the tongue like West World, but I see what you did there. Interesting. We've been waiting this. And just like the questions started in my head: Was this also controlled at the "mesa" or was that just a showroom we saw earlier? If not, would the "mesa" for this area be a sacred mountain? Lee worked for Ford but he says also wrote the stories for Shogun World, so did Ford have dominion over this world (as well as all the other worlds), or did he focus solely on his version of the old West? Just how big is this damned island, I mean, that's an honest-to-god mountain in the distance. Is that this park's 'mesa'?

West world just keeps sprawling and sprawling, both with story and scenery and I wonder if they're really going for the whole Game of Thrones for real or if I was just playing. After all, there are still three parks to go and you can't even see one from the other. And story-wise, while the Delos immortality program fleshed out the why, some of these new characters *cough* William's daughter, are just being on boarded for when the older principals decide to move on. And by the way, I'm over the whole story switching back and forth in time thing. Like totally over it. The first episode was cool set up but just tell me the story already. Okay, the Delos interlude was needed, but I don't need to see William's daughter as a teen in the park at some point. If the story is worth telling then teasing the ending doesn't make it more worth telling.

But enough griping, this is some good ass TV. A little intrigue, a call back to something you halfway overlooked in the first season, a story nudge, some character building. And ninja! Okay, the ninja was a little over the top, but who doesn't love ninja? The more I watched them in a stylized feudal Japan more I had to ask myself what audience was this all was targeting and just how far off track was this ride? 

Unlike Sweetwater, which was littered with bodies when Delores and Teddy rode back into to town, the Japanese "home village" had clean streets. What happened here? Or rather, what might not have happened here? Lee's explanation that Shogun World is for people who found West World too tame sounds weak. The culture this simulation seeks to re-create was fairly formal, rigid and precise as shown in the Akane's civilized conversation rituals. It almost seems like this would the more sedate alternative to the buck wild wild west game just on the other side of the forest. But it stands to reason that the game with difficulty supposedly set on Death-March would cost more, so there would be less guests overall in this part of the park. Still the serenity was just weird. And as a game player I have to ask how can you re-write the same story for the higher difficulty level when it plays exactly the same? 

Um, that piece at the beginning, in the now, I'm starting to think Bernard is still broken or that Elise sabotaged him? That was just the old throw five more mysteries on the pile to keep them prestige writing embers smoking. The hosts were wiped like new? Factory reset as it were? As though the identities have been destroyed or - maybe, possibly stored somewhere for later? Right, whatever. Tell the damn story already! 

Now, the part where my thinking gets funny, or I've been reading to many reddit threads in the Westworld sub. I don't think Delores is completely awake. In my opinion, Delores is where Mauve was at the end of the first season - running a program that makes her think she's there, but she isn't. This may be Ford's last push before letting her loose. This gets tricky, so stay with me. Mauve is the most awake, as evidenced by her deviation from her 'infiltrate the mainland' instruction when she got off the train station. Further, being able to see herself from the outside in Shogun World has her 'thinking' about who she was and her 'story.' Now she's about to expand and re-purpose abilities that her creator imbued into her. It's kind of a glorious arc, one of growth and self discovery.

By contrast, Delores seems locked in on vengeance for her 'suffering.' There is a group following her in her Wyatt persona because that's how they're programmed, but she hasn't earned their loyalty. Her plan is all destruction with some magical exit strategy. She's focused on a particular destination that's supposed to fix everything, which where the story starts to sound familiar. And while there are moments of lucidity, like her examining her feelings for Teddy, this feels more like a path she's set to follow where she gets to stretch, but isn't fully her own. She's treating the other hosts much like she was treated as a host, using them for her own ends which is depressing for someone supposed to be 'awake.' The characters in West World are only really free when they exceed their instructions or they run out. The question is: when Ford turned on her Wyatt persona, what were the plans and exactly how far out did they go?

We're halfway there, kids. Barkeep, I say we next see Mauve as the shogun - and you know her daughter doesn't remember her. Who wants to put $5 on it?     

Monday, May 7, 2018

Um, you sure This is America?

Ramblings post #347
One of the weird things about this critiquing the art of others is hard. When you see something that someone put their blood sweat and tears into come out looking as though there is a lot less to them than you thought, you have a tendency to hesitate. And then you look around and notice you're the only one not applauding? Makes me wonder what movie I'm in. 

"You see the part where he shot the choir, that was supposed to represent the shooting in Charleston, only he's saying that we as black people had a part in that, because he was the one...."

This is how I know I'm old. I just watched the new hot thing that my younger brothers and sisters are feeling, the video of Childish Gambino's "This is America." It moved them. They felt that. And as I watched him, um, creatively, dance shirtless with young black children in an extremely clean warehouse to a song with only semi-lyrics and a beat George Clinton would have left in the studio I was surprised, mystified, confused and in the end left wondering just what the hell did I just watch. But I'm in the minority.

Looking at my various social media I'd heard rave reviews. This was artistic, beautiful, deep and three other adjectives that meant pretty good. So when I got home from the ranch, I found it online and watched. And while it appears packaged as an artistic conceptualization of view of this country from the minority point view, I ain't so sure. It's like when someone explained to me the Future's song Mask off was about masks the slaves used to be forced to wear and us as a people taking them off so we could truly us. Um, yeah, sure, okay.

Okay, truth be told it's taken me a lot less time to grow tired of this iteration of the in-season negro. I enjoyed Glover on Community, he has a couple of songs I like and the first season of Atlanta was pretty good. But since then he's become an artist whose indulgences have...gone beyond my tastes, and my tastes are pretty damn broad. Basquiat he is not. I've grown to prefer his show Atlanta, when he's not in the episode. I'm honestly a little afraid of what he'll bring to Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo film. As Hollywood's in-season negro he's been granted license to explore his own psyche because after all... he's brilliant. Isn't he? 

I must be getting old.

Barkeep, I think that last part where he dances on the dusty car, means that joint he lit was real and we'll be reading "meaning" into this forever.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

MCU, I still see you.

Ramblings Post #346
Sometimes a change of medium is good. I have only ever read ONE of the Harry Potter books. Okay, it was like the first 100-125 pages. Not doing that again. But translated into film, the story came alive for me. And now we live an age where a great deal of what I read years ago, what I used to imagine was alive has come alive - on screen. Marvel you have a fan in me. And having read the aforementioned source material I know this eternal truth : In the Marvel Universe - the only person who ever stays dead is Ben Parker.

So. Infinity War.

I understand that people were upset at the ending. I actually saw one photo of someone being carted out to an ambulance. Wooo. Big stuff. A lot of non-comic book people are confused, hurt and feeling some kind of way about it. Honestly, I figured they'd end it on the finger snap, but then I guess some of the dramatic effect would have whooshed over non-comic readers heads. And I know a lot of MCU fans are hurt because the director did say that what happens here is permanent.

I'm going to give those who didn't see it yet a couple of more days while I figure out what I'm going to say about it. There is a lot to unpack. Changes I mean, from the source material. A lot to unpack.

From the first Avengers - but it could be now...
You know, they probably shouldn't have left off the sub-title Part 1. Just sayin.

Barkeep, pour me up one for my "dead" homies. 

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?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Five minutes watching - Black Panther

I caught the Black Panther this past weekend, and if you didn't see it in IMAX or REAL 3D or whatever that I was I saw it in, go see it again. You know what, go see it again anyway. I mean it was like it literally leapt off the screen, like I was standing there. Also, pay for the good seats up front, the one I had was leather, with wide arm rests and the whole thing reclined. I could have slept on that thing. Oh, yeah, the movie. Duh...

John Romita Jr's art was the best
It's a good film. It's a much a better adaptation of the source material than I expected and not quite as many plot holes as their could have been. And while it's not the first big budget movie to star a black person (thank you to Will Smith for holding the line all those years) it is the first one to surround that black lead with a majority black cast. The lead was black, the supporting cast was black and I still bet that if it comes up for an award somehow one of the two white characters will somehow get nominated while the others are forgotten. But it made a whole bunch of money this weekend, so I'll be mad about that when it happens.

For those that don't know, the Black Panther was Marvel's first black superhero, created in the mid-60's and actually predates the activist group with the same name. In a huge step for 1960's civil rights,  the character T'Challa is depicted as not only equal to the Marvel Universe's most intelligent, including Mr. Fantastic Reed Richards and Iron Man Tony Stark, he's also many orders of magnitude more wealthy. This incarnation of him grants most of mental acumen to his sister, but it doesn't make him just a muscle guy. He's noble, thoughtful and a man built to lead a nation.

From here on mild SPOILERS...both for the movie part and in the quasi political part that come after.

The film is pretty well written despite some critics I've heard who thought it meandered a bit early on. A lot of the scenes at the beginning are setups or background for things that happen later, so they only make sense later. For instance, the opening sequence from 1992 which threw a lot of information at us really fast that we weren't paying attention to, but what's said there changes the whole movie later. It almost encourages multiple viewing, which pretty good for a film about a superhero.

I also really enjoyed the visual of Wakanda, with it's wide open savannas and rural feel, juxtaposed against the Afro-futuristic version of a metropolis. But the scenes at The Great Mound seemed gaudy and those where T'Challa wandered the streets felt unnecessarily cramped. For the budget I would have tried for something a bit more airy for the urban shots. For the mining, I just would have started over, something less candy-like. But mostly the city, the interiors, the technology all came together to feel both fantastic and still a little grounded. I really liked the mix of tradition and contemporary, though not always in the costuming.

A couple of the story turns were a little too quick for my tastes and as with most superhero films the timelines are hopelessly ridiculous. Seriously, Erick took a Cessna from South Korea and turned up in Wakanda the next day? With a body in tow? And then everybody just fell in line? But comic logic not withstanding, and although the ending seemed rushed, I mean like they really should put those pieces they had to edit out for time back in, it was still a damn good movie.       

Now, to the quasi-political part of my review (sigh)...

After watching the film on Sunday I decided to read a few spoilered up reviews. I tried to find a few by black people because after seeing the revelry I wanted to know what the thoughts were. First was the guy who equated T'Challa's victory with respectability politics. Then came the folks who thought Erick's Death before bondage line was poetic, a new age "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees" sort of thing.

But it was the people echoing terms used by people who want them dead, various "Hotep" brothers, who  finished off my weekend by proclaiming Erick Killmonger was right. If I remember correctly the Killmonger's plan was to give Wakandan weapons to his personal definition of oppressed peoples around the world and start a series of revolutions. Sort of global civil war that would more than likely leave millions dead. Right..., no. That some people could reach this conclusion indicated to me some deep seated personal anger as well as a clear lack of scope outside their own purview, a through misunderstanding of what they'd just watched, and a failure to understand exactly how revolution works.

Let's go in reverse here so I can close with my main point. A revolution is NOT the purge. (I'm using one movie series to explain another movie series, yeesh) If you've never seen one of the Purge movies, the premise is one night a year all bets are off and you can do what you want to. The next morning, everyone shrugs off the night's "festivities," grabs an espresso and goes in to see if their boss survived. I hate to disappoint those who want immediate change via violence but that's not how it works in reality. In reality you get each little tranche of revolutionary with their own little version and frequently conflicting victory conditions blowing the bejeesus out each other for...sometimes years. 

Second, if you had payed attention in CAP AM: CIVIL WAR you'd realize that T'Challa's offer to save Erick at the end wasn't automatically just to later incarcerate him for his crimes. Erick with his clouded perception of the world and how it worked made the assumption that the Wakandans would treat him like, well, a black American. Thus he chose unwisely. T'Challa indicated in CIVIL WAR he was through with vengeance and stopped the man who killed his father from committing suicide. Why wouldn't he have been willing to take in a misguided cousin? This is a man who'd just cursed out his dead father for leaving that same cousin behind. The same man who took (or would take) in the Winter Soldier to rehabilitate him. Whose to say where Erick could have ended up. People who watched the film and saw revolution thwarted or respectability affirmed lack the vision and, the last item, scope. 

Side note - Why did T'Chaka leave his brother N'Jobu's body in Oakland? And why would leaving the son keep the up the lie that Wakanda was a third world state? And why didn't young Zuri clean house afterwards, opening all the panels and such? These are plot holes, hopefully answered in Blu-ray extra footage, and I'm on political now anyway. Sorry.

But the last part of my diatribe, the lack of mental scope is the most important part. Further, Erick was raised in America believed like most black Americans do that if we're both black it doesn't matter that I'm from Oakland and you're from DC, technically we're on the same side. But that's not how people from one of the 54 countries on the African continent think. There is a reason there are countries and tribes. I'm even going to completely discount N'Jobu being in the wrong from jump, as he instead of making his case to his brother for providing assistance instead actually sold out his entire country by assisting Klaue in stealing the vibranium to being with.

Further, Erick believed that Wakanda was being selfish by isolating itself instead of helping the oppressed people - particularly black Americans. But that's just it -  Wakandans have never been oppressed. It's part of their mythos - Never conquered, Never colonized. Where was this racial empathy supposed to have come from? Even worse, T'Challa had already indicated privately that he was starting to see Nakia's point of view about sharing a bit of their prosperity. And much like his father, Erick instead of making his case and subsequently finding this out, decided his way was the only way.

The people who think Erick was right need to step back, just like he couldn't.

In the end, T'Challa's actions will upset the world in ways Erick's "let's set all on fire" plan never could. It might even be dare I say it, a better plan. One without destruction. Without death. And sadly to some, without anger.   

In the end, good movie. Very good movie. Go see it. Again.