Monday, December 16, 2019

Five minutes watching Watchmen

I don't watch a lot of movies because I didn't have a lot of time. A lot of movies and television of late have become more niche oriented and horrible, I'm trying to write this sequel to a first book I haven't even published and I have a ton of video games I bought on sale I still want to play so there. So, I watch a movie or a little TV when I get a chance.  You know, I guess I really don't watch a lot of movies or television. Go figure.

I watched the Watchmen

I didn't read Watchmen until sometime in the 90's, when it was a graphic novel. I had always been more Marvel than DC, so it didn't seem immediately pressing even after the rave reviews. But while the book was a revelation to some, to me it was in line with my take on earlier titles like Howard Chakyin's American Flagg. But Chakyin was just a touch futuristic, on the other hand Watchmen explored the idea of superheroes not as they would appear in a comic universe, but more in line with our in that moment real lives: Less black and white issues, more murky goings on and ambiguity in the characters and their motivations. It was a refreshing read in a era of majestic heroism, a turn from that lofty iteration alongside the legendary Frank Miller's Batman: Dark Knight. It was simply heroes deconstructed.

The movie, by contrast, was a pale re-imagining. While it was visually exciting, it was missing something. I now want to attribute that to the brevity of the medium. Time constraints force editing, and editing is in the hands of of those who lack the proper respect for the source an axe and not a scalpel.

By contrast the television series, an extension of the book more than the movie, is everything the cinematic had hoped to be and more. Well written, well paced with nine hours to produce truly fantastic performances. Here it is not simply heroes deconstructed but the deconstruction itself torn down. It is a well crafted tale that almost insists on a revisit if only to catch the pieces you missed with each passing episode. From a genre crafted for the white teenage male gaze it posited a black female lead, visited upon historical black trauma, flipped our understanding of this universe's heroic history, made the cool agent a seasoned woman and made us question that most basic of understanding of superheroes: with great power comes great responsibility.

Note: Spoilers abound from here forward.

The only other show with so many callbacks that I can think of is the first season of Westworld. The first episode of Watchman started tossing out clues and they just never stopped. We all just assumed that the Ozymandias timeline was happening at the same time, although the statue in Lady Trieu's garden should have been a dead giveaway. The big deal about the squid drops that kept popping up. The eggs. The mesmerizing from the Black Hood origin swung back around to a tool for retribution at the beginning. From the goings on at the Seventh Calvary ranch in the first episode to super cool FBI Laurie's change of heart in Antarctica at the end to the ambiguous Sopranos style ending, the story was an intricately diagrammed little journey that just kept linking this idea to that idea over and over.

And nobody, not a god soul, noticed Cal was Dr. Manhattan.

This was good television. This year HBO has been fire, with Chernobyl and now Watchmen. I don't even really miss Westworld at this point which honestly in its second season felt like it was trying too hard. This series that was maligned by some for having white supremacists as the villains and discussions of reparations really hit a lot of good notes. For all the power that Dr. Manhattan possessed, why didn't he do more? But then it could also be asked, why should he?

They claim there might be a second season, which is both exciting and disappointing. The sophomore slump is real. I hope we get lucky. Again.

Barkeep. Something with some squid in it. I'm joking. No, I am telling a joke. Do not make me anything with a ...Dr. pepper. Plain. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The "Friendly Confines" of JerryWorld...

Ramblings Post #379
Where I been? I want to say I've been writing. I started the sequel to my alt-1960's tale The Grand Berber Most Divine, only this time the protagonist has a new challenge: family. It's tentatively titled The African Riviera Most Resplendent. But that's stalled for other reasons. And I did actually go to see Sporty. But that's a post I keep re-hashing in my head. And I'm leaving the Ranch. But that's also a whole other deal. So what I'm going to do is go with the familiar. No, not politics, although whenever I run into whoever is running the DNC some words will be spoken, believe that! No, I'm going to do football. It's just so soothing. Or at least it's supposed to be.

Ron Rivera is out at Carolina because the Panther's owner David Tepper has stated clearly that he will not accept the idea of mediocrity for his team. Ron Rivera and Jason Garrett started at roughly the same time, 2011 and have similar resumes of just above a .500 record and three division titles. Neither one's team is playing that well this season either.  The one notable exception is that Ron actually took the Panthers to a Superbowl. We're still waiting. 

As I was pondering this, it hit me. Kids, I hate to say it, but the Dallas Cowboys are apparently the Chicago Cubs of the NFL.

Allow me explain. The Cubs play baseball in the Windy city of Chicago at 1060 West Addison, the venerable Wrigley Field. (Elwood Blues does not live there). They went 108 years without winning at the championship level until three years ago in 2016. But Wrigley Field stayed a hot ticket all those years the Cubs cried about about that epic drought. The games broadcast on WGN, the merch sold like hot cakes and with no need to really improve the product because people came anyway, the owners were practically printing money in the dugouts. There were valiant efforts, of course, and on more than few occasions the team had a loaded roster and won many games but just couldn't bring it home, which only endeared them to their audience more.

Sound familiar?

The Dallas Cowboys are the number one brand in the NFL, far and away. The next three in order are : The Steelers, the Packers, and whoever is winning this season. Seriously. And like the Cubs, the fans are still talking about the last championship twenty five years ago and every flash of brilliance is met with the phrase "We're going to the Super Bowl!" They win just enough to make you mad. The team seems to keep a loaded roster, draw more primetime eyes than any other team in the league and JerryWorld may as well be a cathedral to the sport. It also stays packed. To the rafters.   

Sound familiar?

But for the Cubs it wasn't until they changed coaches in 2014 that things started to fall their way. With Ron's departure in Carolina, and Garrett's contract up at the end of the season, will the Jones boys get the hint? The players are frustrated, as are the fans. We lost to the Jets. I mean damn. (Okay, Philly lost to the Dolphins, but we can't count on that every week. LOL.) The Cowboys lucked into a season where everyone in their division but them are rebuilding or (also) struggling, so they're still driving the bus of their own destiny. And with the pieces they've assembled, they've got a shot at doing something great in the next few years. But not with their current head coach, who may get the un-coveted Marvin Lewis designation this off-season if things go wrong...for the fans.  

Dallas Fans waiting on the Jones Boys to get it right.
And this choke-hold on that branding spot and all the associated perks means the incentive to win a championship boils down to ego on the part of the owner.

Barkeep. If you could put a bottle of the Pappy Van Winkle aside for later, that would be swell. For now, vodka and OJ, two cubes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Thank you Mr. Witherspoon.

The first thing I saw when I checked my social media feeds today was that John Witherspoon had passed. So today did not start off well at all.

Witherspoon was kind of comedian who showed up and took over. From my first real memory of him in that Robert Townsend film where he spoke the immortal line, "Hoes gotta eat too!" he was a scene stealer. From his funny and yet still poignant Pops in the Ice Cube franchise Friday, to his stint in as the father of the Wayans Bros to his absolutely genius turn as the voice of Grandpa in The Boondooks, the man knew how to command attention. Even a quick turn in the classic comedy Boomerang still lives with as all, because everybody knows you got to "coordinate!"

And unlike so many long time actors who spend too long in the dirty jungle that is Hollywood and have become wrapped up in themselves (out of self preservation), I understand he was a voice of wisdom to many a young funny person trying to get to the next level. He still did stand-up, that harshest of comedy outlets where you can literally feel the audience. And there he was the wise man guiding the upcoming through there storms. Witherspoon went from Richard Pyror, then Eddie Murphy, the Wayans, and Jay Pharoah and Kevin Hart. His career spanned generations of laughter.  And the whole time he was outrageous and hilarious.

You sir, shall be missed.

Monday, October 14, 2019

So, this..

Ramblings Post #378
Find joy where you can. Find it in the warmth of the morning toast. Find it in the crisp of a cup of coffee. Find your joy in the morning jog, the desk for work, that traffic still irritates you for it means you care. Find your joy in faces of friends, in the smiles of children, in sunset. But not football, not if you're a Cowboys fan. 

Dallas has made painfully clear why last years swap of a first round draft pick for Amari Cooper was a good deal for them. Without a serious number one receiver on the field and healthy, there is no pressure to make defenses to slide back. Dallas is right back where it was last season before the trade, with defenses loading up the box and stuffing Zeke and the run game on sheer headcount alone. The offense that should put thirty-five up per game is bogged down. Along with a defense sorely lacking in confidence, to say that I am disappointed by the outcome of the Cowboys-Jets game is an understatement.

The fucking Jets?

I am certain that Shannon Sharpe and Stephen A. Smith are having a grand old time with this. Despite losing by a less than three with a missed field goal on the books - and we cut Dan Bailey - it won't matter. A loss by one counts the same as a loss by four touchdowns. And despite the division being weak and still sharing the lead, things don't look that great going forward. Better teams have to be faced in the coming weeks, and this turn of events...the inability to proceed minus a key player...does not trend well. At this point even Jerry Jones has admitted the team isn't as elite as we all thought it was. Good? The personnel alone make it good, but elite teams find a way, and we're still looking at the GPS.  

The fucking Jets?

I'm firm believer that on any given Sunday any team can be any other team. The football doesn't bounce straight, and neither do the circumstances surrounding it. As much as we consider skill, injuries and and little tiny things like a missed tackle here, a blown assignment there, a bad read and suddenly you're down (or up) by two scores. It happens. A lot of times the difference between a good team and bad team are just those moments. Elite teams keep those mistakes to minimum. And right now my Cowboys aren't doing a good job of that.

I had hoped that this was kind of long term strategy that learning the Philadelphia had lost and being unconcerned with the other two teams in the NFC east that the coaches had sat Amari because they figured the game didn't matter. He's been having foot issues so why not. But this is the NFL. All the games matter. And anything can happen. I like to think we're better than this. I would sincerely like to have the Cowboys prove it. 

The fucking dog-ass Jets?

Barkeep, I need the strong stuff. The 151. No chaser. I need to sweat this out.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

They're playing basketball....

Ramblings Post #377
This post should be about the impeachment "inquiry", but it's not. This should be about the latest goings on at the Ranch, but it's not. This should be about my terrible diet as of late, but it's not. This should be about why I haven't posted in a month, but it's not. This should be about what TV shows I'm watching and my take on them, but it's not. This should be about the Cowboys - who are still going to win the Superbowl - but it's not. This should be about Sporty, but it's not. This should be about gearing up for a write my ass off this November, this time for sure, but it's not. So, what is it about? The WNBA. Why? Because. 

I watched part of a game of the WNBA championship last week. I was flipping through some channels and came across it, and sadly, like it was a meeting of high scoring Division III rivals. It promised to be exciting, but only if you were aware it was happening. That I was not aware, or that it didn't seem to be a prime time event was also clear. But many years past, in the long long ago, my high school girls basketball team won the state championship and the school had buses to the games and everything. Those ladies could ball, I kid you not, and that game was exciting. So, in memory of them I sat down and watched for a while. 

First, is the camera angle different in the WNBA, or are the fellas just that much bigger? When I watch an NBA game, which I do from time to time, the players seem proportional to the court. It's more than likely that it's because I'm used to how it looks. The men's game looks familiar. By contrast, watching the women play the court looked huge if not enormous. It felt as though they'd stuck an extra five feet on both sides and along the length. And the angles of the shots seemed deeper, as though the camera was positioned higher up, or maybe off to the side of where I normally expected it to be. Or maybe it's just that most NBA players are 6' 4" and up and the WNBA players are (mostly) six inches or more shorter.  

Then there is the actual game-play. And it could be just me again, but I think the NBA includes more isolation basketball. Now, while the three ball has migrated to the WNBA (and college, and high school and the mini basket on the trash can), that superstar single match-up game doesn't seem to have made the trip. Or it could have been the cameras. The women seem to have much more perimeter passing, less pick and roll and way less clear outs. Or maybe it just looked that way because of all the up and under layups. I mean, because the rim is still 10' I expected an increase in the number of layups, but there was much less jump shooting than I imagined. I was expecting sharpshooters, but the only time anyone consistently took a jumper was from three point land.

Other than those two things it was  just like I remembered. Dives to the floor, blocks, fast breaks and lots of hustling. Just "plain ole good ass we-in-it-to-win-it basketball. But it just felt different.     

Again, it's not that I've never seen women play sports before. Girls high school team won state champs, were more popular than the boys team. I used to watch Sporty play women's tackle football - full pads, full speed. So it's not that.

Or is it?

I need to think on this. Barkeep, can I get a lemon drop. Yes, I said a lemon drop. What's wrong with that?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September 11

It's been eighteen years.

Still can't really watch anything about it. Still get too worked up. It's my generation's "where were you moment?"

World Trade.
Should have built four new towers, all 120 stories. Dammit.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Did not see that one coming...

Ramblings Post #376
Sport is BIG. Real BIG. Sport crosses lines that other subjects can't cross and brings together people who otherwise would have nothing in common. It unites and galvanizes. And understand in Europe it can lower GDP, cause wars and make people question their whole reality. Which makes me wonder if the amount of crazy we have about football in the South is just the right amount of crazy? 

In the midst of being take away lots of positives from the Cowboys pre-season play, 34-0 versus the Texans, and starting to get excited again for college football as Florida survived Miami in a barn burner, a blurb dropped on the crawl that made me pause. Andrew Luck announced his retirement. 

Wait, what? 

Andrew Luck was not even really in the prime of his career, as for me a QB doesn't really get rocking until he's 31. (Note: Yes, this means that Patrick Mahomes may be not allowed to be second halves by then - by a new NFL fairness rule or something). With all the injuries he'd already been through, and with the way the league is, one could figure that another rehab was par for the course. But his calf injury was lingering too long and despite QBs now playing into their late 30s and now 40s, don't get it twisted: Always be kind for you never know what battle someone else is waging. 
First, if Andrew Luck feels the need to retire, then he should go enjoy his life. That's it. Football ain't everything and injuries can continue with you long after you've hung up your helment. Most of those who made the snide comments about how he needs to man up haven't played the game. They don't know. Everyone who suits up isn't going to bite off the end of their finger or play though a broken neck for sake of the team or the game. Or be expected to do it three or four times. But it was that he said that his enjoyment of the game was gone was more telling to me. It takes a special mindset to suit and then run full speed into another person or let yourself be run at with the intention of full contact. Or go out in front of 80,000 screaming fans to be tested to your peak physically and mentally for three hours. Doing it and not feeling that joy, a sense of accomplishment or that it's your purpose, is just unfathomable. If the challenge leaves him empty, then it was past time to leave. 

My suggestion to him is go get healthy, rest his soul and the figure out what's next.  It might be going into real estate, or youth sports or back to school. After being away for a while you might even want to get back into football, who knows, but the important thing is the get your mind right first. This is admittedly less than perfect timing, at least from a team point of view, but then when is it ever the right moment? Better he leave now and give them a chance to mitigate than find himself unable to muster up that certain something in a crucial tight game moment.   

But more importantly I'm worried about Sporty, who is a big Colts fan. I have actually purchased Colts paraphernalia for her. For several seasons. I know she's not happy right now. Do you think now would be a bad time to suggest maybe becoming a Cowboys fan? Yeah, probably a bad time.

Barkeep. A tall cold one for Mr. Luck. May the next leg of his journey bring him peace. And no, that wasn't a joke about his calf injury...

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

If you come for the King....

Ramblings Post #375
This week I'm your correspondent from here at the front lines of America's most important battle this week. On Twitter. Over Chicken Sandwiches. Hey, everything doesn't have to be that serious. I could be arguing over grass or AstroTurf. Or the whole Jay-Z and Kapernick thing. But sometimes you need to have a little fun. Or at least not as serious. Not the same thing. 

It was supposed to be a salad day.

As part of my personal betterment program I have salads for lunch at least twice a week, usually on Monday to get the week started right and another day along the way. I find the roughage surprisingly refreshing for some reason.  And although I love beef, I also have cut back the red meat to twice a week just because it stays in my system so long but that's whole other story. I generally try to limit not only my total intake, but also try to cut back on excessive fried foods and the like. All my pants feel lose now, and I working notches down on the old belt.

Right around the ranch there are a host of sit down lunch, pizza, sandwich, Mexican, Chinese, and other ethnic options within in easy strolling distance. A lunch costing between $10-15 is the usual. And parking is funny, so I try to limit my off the grounds trips. About two or three times a month, provided the joint isn't too crowded - which is never - I venture over to the Chick-fl-a for lunch and get a sandwich or more regularly the nuggets to keep the bread intake down. I still see it as a treat, as my hometown was too small to support one and so I didn't even discover them until college. But that there is what you call good eating. But also about once a month or so I will also venture to Popeye's, but only for dinner. They're very good, but if you've ever been in a Popeye's you know what it is. I try to keep both of them far back in the rotation. But since we're now apparently in the midst of a chicken sandwich war, I decided before I pick sides I needed to get that intel. 

That's right... war. Over chicken sandwiches. Of course on Twitter. I read the back and forth and chuckled.

I ran a couple errands, swung by Popeye's and got a sandwich combo and headed back to the south forty to eat in peace. I got back to my spot, got my um, "charges arranged" and unpacked lunch. First, the Popeye's sandwich is bigger. The number one at Chick-fil-a always seems smushed a bit when you get it, but it's still a good eat. A small white bread bun, take the pickles off, add in a dab of mustard and some mayo and it's a good chicken sandwich. The sandwich from Popeye's by contrast is on a nice toasted Brioche bun, the pickles looked thicker, even though I took them off, and no need for mayo or mustard as it comes with sauce. It just looks better. BUT, how it looks is not how it tastes. I dug in.

Damn. I mean damn.

Chick-fl-a got trouble coming. Wendy's and BK might need to head for the showers. I didn't think I would ever refer to having a chicken sandwich as a "religious experience" but here we are. I had to put the sandwich down twice to stop from eating it too fast. It was juicy, spicy (but I got the spicy), the toasted bread set it off just right, I don't know what that sauce was but damn. Popeye's may have come to the chicken sandwich party late, but party didn't start until they walked in. Now, let's be upfront here, the fries at Popeye's are horrible, and the service is not for the impatient or faint of heart.

But this sandwich just might be worth it.

I can't go back. it's like I know I like sweet stuff so I limit myself intentionally. Bruh. I would overdose on these.

Barkeep. You got any good cognac back there? 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

We not even gonna wait for the season to start?

Ramblings Post #374
This long dreary season is almost over. No, not summer. It's been Africa hot this summer. Swing low sweet chariot negro spiritual hot in this piece. It's been a lot things this summer, and although long and dreary both apply, the season ain't the topic. No, I mean the NOT Football Season part of the year. Yes, in the southern US it's either Football season or it ain't. Everything else is semantics. So here we go again, and thank God someone is happy.

I almost like the Cowboys don't love me back....

First Zeke decides he needs an extension, or to re-negotiate, or be blessed or whatever, with two whole years left on his deal. Look I'm all for a player getting paid, but I'm also one in favor of fulfilling your obligations that you willingly agreed to. A year left might be okay to sidle back over to the table if you're looking for peace of mind, but two years just feels wrong.

And then Dak. *Really heavy...really really heavy...sigh*

Him. He's the someone happy. For now.
Look, let's be honest. Dak has been underpaid plain and simple. He was drafted as a placeholder/project with the commensurate deal (less than 700k per season) but due to a couple of injuries got an opportunity to shine and just went buck. It's the American dream honestly. He has lead his team to division wins two of the last three seasons, only the magic of Aaron Rodgers kept them out of an NFC championship game, and his numbers have been favorably comparable to guys who are considered the game's elite. All that while playing in an unimaginative offense and without a primary receiver for half a season or his top-tier running back for another. Now truth be told I think he benefited greatly his first year from having Romo in his ear, but that he's been able to keep most of going on his own since then is just incredible. And this season with a more creative coordinator I want to believe he might be going to back to a form closer to that of his rookie year. So he deserves a serious raise at this point. But it seems like he's trying to make them pay for what they did the Cold Crush.

Is he worth twenty million? Yes. Is he worth thirty? I can see it, but I'd need to dig into his numbers to justify it. Is he worth Forty Million American Dollars per season? He's still just playing the one position, right?

Look, I understand negotiation, they go low, you go high and then ya'll meet in the middle - so on that side of the table it behooves one to set the anchor as far up as you can. Makes sense, moves the numbers to your benefit. But this ain't the no-cap MLB or the Bird exception-SuperMax NBA, this is the "yeah, we're gonna need our playbook back" NFL. And in the NFL as it turns out sometimes the difference in a Superbowl season and a rebuilding year is the second string linebacker or reserve guard. Depth is the key, and that's hard as hell to achieve with a fifty three man roster when you're forced to put 30% of the payroll on a single person.    

I'm in favor of the man getting his money, but I'm of the opinion he (and his agent) need to look at the larger picture - Career and Money-wise.

On the career side, I think he needs to bet on the team and dial back his expectations so they can get and keep the talent in place around him. A great quarterback can only be great if the receivers catch the ball, and the half season between Dez and Amari should make that clear. They need a second and nice outlet receiver to complement their primary to keep the defense guessing. They also need a stout offensive line and of course Zeke, the engine that makes everything else work. All that costs money, and we've still got the whole defensive side to go. This team potentially has NFC East champ written all over it. I can even legitimately suggest Superbowl. If they can hold it together.

Money-wise, Dak already has some endorsements, and the addition of a Superbowl ring (or even an appearance) only makes those deals more lucrative to the interested parties. And that's where the real money lies if you're paying attention. Jordan hasn't played a game in decades but is still a marketable figure. Manning doesn't suit on Sundays but is still selling insurance because he has rings. Winning makes the big endorsement deals possible. And winning is a product of the efforts of the whole team.

Yes, it's a gamble, betting his future on the team's success. And not a particularly good one either. The NFL season is unforgiving and can be made or destroyed in the blink of an eye by forces you never even saw coming. You could run into another team on a hot streak and get demoralized early, a first string corner is hobbled and the pass defense goes to shit, an opposing defense discovers a weakness you didn't even realize you had, your mojo decides not to buy a season ticket, etc.. I fully understand the get your money idea. 

But I'm a fan. A die-hard fan. And it's been a long time since there was joy in Mudville. Er, I mean Dallas.

Barkeep. Just a beer. I'm tired.   

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Toni Morrison

I haven't read a lot of Toni Morrison. I think it's odd that I'm about to write a piece about her when I wasn't that into her work. I thought she was an important literary figure, that her voice was powerful and commanded the space it required to be heard, but her subject matter wasn't in my area. But she didn't publish her first piece until she was almost forty, which in an of itself is inspiring to those of us still nursing our dreams. The reality is that she was majestic, her writing just not for me. It's kind of like recognizing the greatness of Gretzky. I didn't watch hockey, but what he had was undeniable. Morrison possessed that same something in a literary sense.

Even though she was the esteemed author of The Bluest Eye and Beloved, Nobel Laureate, and Pulitzer Prize winner, to me it was the interviews where she sounded like what she extremely smart woman who wasn't about to take any shit. Oh, she was going to be dignified about it, but it was clear you could take all that whatnot to the other room. I remember the interview when a reporter asked her a question that seems to be re-occuring theme for all acclaimed black content producers - Jordan Peele was asked a similar question just recently - concerning when will they turn their focus to white characters. With a quiet grace, that seemed tinged with both disgust and weariness, she pointed out to the interviewer the ridiculousness of their question.

In the age of social media and vociferous outrage, she was an eloquent warrior from a before time, when the ideas we take for granted today were still fresh. No less passionate than those who rage and rend at the currently outdated bits of fabric of our reality, she had honed the articulation of those injustices to elevate comprehension of those who needed to hear. Her voice was to me a kind of feminine version of Morgan Freeman - warm,  soft, wise, thoughtful but hewn with gravitas that made even the simple sound like the words from on high. Maybe it's generational, but it made me feel comforted and secure that the person speaking knew of what they spoke. And then some.

I find myself relieved that she found success within her lifetime and that her voice was not only heard, but listened to.

Thank you Ms. Morrison. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Breaking News is breaking us

This is a political post. 

How bad is it?

It's so bad that the Dayton shooting barely registered with me as I was still processing the El Paso incident. Two mass shootings in 24 hours? What are we doing?

I often wonder why some people seem to want to return to the days of the OK Corral, or rather what they imagine those days must have been like. In reality in most western townships and settlements the sheriff had folks turn in their guns when they got to town.  The people actually in the old west were well aware that guns were lethal and actually took steps to mitigate the issue, something we seem to have recently forgotten. And in this modern age rife with political demonization, personal overreaction and a complete lack of accountability this apparently deep seated need to add guns to the mix is just terrifying. But there it is. So here we are.


Again and again. Damn.

Just to be clear, Texas is an open carry state, and the people in Walmart at the time actually had their loaded weapons on them. There are multiple stories where an average citizen took their gun out in the face of danger. Still, the shooter in was able to kill 20 people and wound many others. I say many others because it is believed a number of people who were wounded simply left, fearful of their immigration status coming to light, which is a whole other conversation. But 20 people are dead in what clinically speaking was a perfect case scenario for the Good Guy with a Gun Theory for a safer America. And yet it failed. So could someone explain to me how it's supposed to work again? 

And the gunman in Dayton managed to kill nine people and wound almost thirty more even though the police responded less than a minute after the first shots were fired. That's faster than it happens in the movies. That's action hero timing. The only way a faster response would be possible is if the officers were standing right next to the guy. And yet nine lives were lost and nearly thirty injured. And had the response not been quite so quick, or ineffective due to the body armor of the assailant, the man had a hundred round clip loaded. What could have been is a terrible thought.

We've started the usual routine: incident, thoughts and prayers followed by the insistence that now is not the time to talk about it (I'd like for the record, what the appropriate amount of time is). And if anyone cares, I will be directing my thoughts and prayers to our legislature, in hopes they come to their senses. Please note, that as El Paso police sifted through the carnage and while people in El Paso were lined up to donate blood, our great leader took the opportunity to crash another wedding. So we're not exactly getting shining leadership here. But the rest of them, the what we assume should be semi-reasonable ones need to wake up and realize that the blame lies not with video games or mental illness, but with our current political and economic climate along with our lax gun laws. I doubt, no I'm pretty sure that this rising to the moment won't happen. We live in an age of un-accountability. 

We are A) the only country where this sort of thing seems to happen with regularity and B) refuse to to bring ourselves to do something about it. We seemed to be striving to the be the wild wild west of the Western world. We no longer live in the age of balance, only extremes. There is no nuance, only fevered outrage. Where are the calm voices and measured thinking? Our national question has become when will it be extreme enough to trigger a response from the willfully blind? Shooting up a church, an elementary school or a whole country music festival wasn't sufficient. So one has to wonder what will? And if nothing will, who are these people and what do we do with these fanatics?  

I still of the opinion we just do what they did in California. When the Black Panthers started openly brandishing machine guns, guess what the Republican governor (one Ray Gun Ronnie Reagan) immediately decided need to be banned?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #35
Sometimes it's not enough for a post, but I can't stop it's just bar chatter. 

I watched Big 3 basketball last weekend for the first time.

This is a thing?

I heard about it, and it seemed like it might be interesting. So flipping through the channel guide I spotted that it was on so I flipped over to watch for a few minutes. So, let me get this straight. It's three man, half court, basketball. Game at 50, playing deuce. With a ref. That had an arena full of people. And has a TV contract.

Kiss my ass.

If you had told me ten years ago that this would be a thing, I would not have believed you. Watching some old pros play half-court was just...weird. I'd just watched the NBA summer league the night before, and by the way, when Harden and Westbrook sit down and Clemons stands up, the foot does NOT come off the gas. That aside, watching Big 3 basketball was an ARE YOU SERIOUS?  What I essentially watched was what happens in gyms across the country on any given weekend. In my high school gym 30 plus years ago on a Saturday afternoon. Three on three. Only with jerseys, a bench, commercials and somebody not playing calling the fouls. 

This is a thing?


Friday, July 12, 2019

Who in the hell left the gate open?

Ramblings Post #373
The other big leagues better take notes. This is how you do it. You take the hope and dreams of your fans and coat liberally with flour, seasonings and a brush of corn meal and then deep fry it to a golden brown. Serve with white bread, cole slaw and hot sauce. Sports have a tendency to get stagnant if too much power accumulates in one place for too long. The heroes hang around long enough to become the villains, or whatever the Patriots are currently classified as. But you if you keep the whole shebang in motion, not too much, but enough to keep ALL the fans interested  then good things happen. Or bad depending on your team. But then there is always next year. And use hot sauce with butter base. 

One way to put it is that this NBA off-season has been a dizzying realignment of power, and arms race if you will, as the front offices shift the players around the metaphorical board in an attempt to gain that elusive advantage, that minor edge, needed to be able to call themselves champions in a league where every night everything is in play.

Another way to put is dammmmmnnnnn!

First the Fat Boys break up, and now this. Russell Westbrook is being traded  to the Houston Rockets. Lord Jebus. If you ain't know, Russy plays pro basketball like he got the real life cheat code, able to regularly put up normally elusive triple doubles (double figures in three separate stats) by the end of the third quarter. Smart managers build teams around guys like him. And he's been on a rampage since his running partner KD basically said "let me go get these rings." and headed west. OKC was maybe one good player away from being able to contend with the Warriors, until one of them (KD) went and joined the Warriors. But as long as you had Westbrook, a championship felt just a player and a few jump-shots out of reach. Except of course, for the Warriors. But then this off-season happened. The Lakers beefed up with AD. And Kawhi came out west. And the Warriors look like they're not rebuilding, just reloading. And despite claims of steely eyed resoluteness, somebody in the Midwest blinked. And with shipping out Paul George and this trade, its pretty clear the Thunder are going to follow the 76ers model, rolling into more than the next few drafts with so many picks they might go into rookie shock.

(is that a thing? It is now. Rookie Shock. That's mine.)   

This move also re-unites Westbrook with always exciting (re: loose cannon) James Harden in what might just be the deadliest back-court in the NBA today ...if they can figure out how to share the ball. I'm going to suggest that passing drills be a very big part of the Rockets future practices. And although not a "Big Three", because right now it appears that the current NBA salary structure incentivizes dynamic duos anyway, this pair is going to put the hurt on some folks. The way this off-season is all falling out, these veritable tectonic shifts mean the upcoming season isn't going to be a cakewalk for anyone in either conference.

Finally, here's hoping Chris Paul is taking elocution lessons. With the move to Oklahoma he's going to have to mentor Gilgeous-Alexander and ride rough with pretty much no real help over the next few seasons (if the Thunder don't trade him to Miami?). He's still a baller, but by yourself is hard. He'll be 37 when his current deal is over, ancient in basketball years. Not Vince Carter old...why is he still playing?... but up there. If CP3 is forced to stay I think that the coming seasons of frustration as he suffers the growing pains that come with a front office having a "trust the process" mindset are going to make a spot in the announcer's booth feel like a beach on tropical island. I mean, he does look good in the State Farm commercials. 

Barkeep. Whiskey, and leave the bottle. Because as the league has proved so far, just when you think it's over, it ain't over. Dammmmmnnn.

Found this on Deadspin. Talk about premature.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

50 Movies I think you should watch. Because reasons.

Ramblings Post #372
Life is strange. There should be more to this but my mind is on other things and I needed an intro. I'm trying to get my focus back to writing, to sussing out opportunity, to moving forward. I need Jesus and twenty eight million dollars. And a cool vanilla shake. 

I'm a big movie fan. I don't watch them as much as I used to, but still. Back when I had time I would indulge and get lost in what I considered good storytelling and visuals that lingered in the eye. Classics, action flicks, dramas, comedies, documentaries, musicals, it didn't matter. A good story is a good story. Movies have traditionally been a way for us to imagine together, as a community if not a country. They can be at inspiring  if not motivating. A great movie can change your whole attitude about life for a while, a bad movie can make you dream about moving to Hollywood because you KNOW that you can do better. As I said, motivating

A while back while talking to a younger fellow ranch hand I found out that she had never seen the Belushi-Ackroyd classic The Blues Brothers. I mean, a college educated grown woman of legal drinking age who has not been in coma had never seen The Blues Brothers, a film I consider a classic. I was quite frankly scared to ask about basics like Casablanca or The Godfather, lest my faith in the future of humanity be ruined. Again, I'm not asking had she seen the Bruce Willis heist comedy Hudson Hawk, I 'm talking about commonly accepted pretty damn good movies. And so I instructed her to carve out two hours and go to whichever service she subscribed to and watch it. No, I kid, I loaned her an actual physical DVD. Man, I am old. 

While she was educating herself to what good films are, I took a few moments to compile a list of films that I thought she also see. If only to broaden her horizons as to the magnificence that is modern-ish cinema. I was also amazed that when I actually gave her the list she hadn't seen many, if any, of them. 

"Deep Sigh" 

That list was about 84 movies long, which when I sat down and put serious thought about it I  was able to push out to 100. Good movies. Well mostly good movies. A lot of good movies and few movies that just need to be seen because like..damn. People need to know! But 100 is a lot of movies, and I don't want to discourage my audience from checking them out, so for this exercise I've split that list in half, with this being the first list. These aren't in any real order, this isn't the bottom half, or anything, just the fifty on this list. Maybe grouped by genre but that's it. Movies I think the next generation should all watch. Some are good, some are just horrible. But all are worth sitting through. 

Think of this as less for entertainment, although you will be entertained, and more for  education, although they won't learn much.

The 50 in this list...
Some Like it Hot
The Seven Year Itch
Westside Story
Arsenic and Old Lace
His Girl Friday
Mr. Roberts
The Producers (1967)
Singing in the Rain
My Fair Lady
A Face in the Crowd
Auntie Mame (1958)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
North by Northwest
The Glass Bottom Boat
Lawrence of Arabia
The Blues Brothers
Animal House
Blazing Saddles
The Princess Bride
Thelma & Louise
Groundhog Day
The Godfather
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Usual Suspects
Die Hard
The Untouchables
My Cousin Vinny
Coming to America
True Lies
When Harry met Sally
Sixteen Candles
Top Gun
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
A Time to Kill
A League of Their Own
The Big Lebowski
Smokey and the Bandit
The Wiz
The Fifth Element
Full Metal Jacket

Barkeep, a bourbon and sprite, house bourbon is fine. I may have to do music albums for her to listen to next. Hey man, do you know anybody who can fix an eight track player? 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

NBA Free Agency, what hath thou wrought?

Ramblings Post #371
It was on sale, so I'll admit I broke down and bought NB2K19. I mean like a sale sale. Not a Steam Level Sale, but still it was less than $20. And it's not...terrible. Or at least it isn't right now, but I'm certain they'll be turning the servers off in 12 months or so. Then we'll see. I had a few extra bucks and really should have bought myself that purple fake tiger leather jacket with the fake ostrich collar. Probably would have been a better investment.

I'm not going to say it was entertaining watching Stephen A. Smith lament his beloved Knicks have to settle for Julius Randle. I'm lying because it was entertaining, hell, it was downright funny. We all watched as the long standing NY home team disassembled itself, sending the immensely talented Porzingis sent to Dallas and giving itself tons of cap end up with Randle, Taj Gibson, Reggie Bullock and Bobby Portis. No Kyrie Iriving, no Deandre Jordan, not even the gap year listed Kevin Durant. All of them are coming to New York, just not for the team Smith roots for. As he lamented, the Brooklyn Nets just got everything the Knicks fans wanted for, Free Agency.

I will give the NBA its props...the salary cap and all it's creative machinations are doing exactly what it was designed to do, keep the whole league competitive. In the age of the max and super-max contract, building a dynasty is one thing, keeping one in place for more than a few seasons is nigh impossible. Miami held sway for a moment, then Cleveland climbed to the fore, then the Warriors and now who will it be? The Sixers? The Timberwolves? The Jazz? Nobody saw Toronto before they got here, the Lakers look like they're back. And I know nobody was checking the Nets until Sunday night around 6:05pm. Wild and wooly ain't the word for it.

Between the sign-and-trade deals, restricted and unrestricted designations, the pick trading and the rest, maintaining a "Super Team" going forward is going to require another "super team" in the front office. This from a guy who actually plays the GM mode in NBA2K. The Warriors got away with holding the dynasty together for a while, but this year even they've had to spin off valuable pieces like Andre Iguodala and the aforementioned Durant. Although I understand for Durant it was a relationship thing, which is great that you have enough loot to just be able to align your path to be comfortable doing your job.

And aside from the Duke super-senior class that is the Pelicans, which despite my high hopes for Zion I so want that squad to be a bust, the whole of the NBA is in a kind of magical disarray. Which is good and bad. I've always been a team guy, as in I hope my team does great. Others are fans of individual players, as in they follow their favorite player wherever they end up. But the disarray means new combinations of stars, and new hot teams, which will create new excited fans, which all means new money. And incidentally new energy which is good for all of us too. But mostly the money. It also means the team you love might just be rebuilding this year, so suck it up. This year I think Free Agency delivered on both aspects, with teams beefing up and players securing the bag.

At least everyone can take pride that they're not the Wizards. Or the Knicks.

All this, and we still don't know where Kahwi Leonard is going yet! I'm willing to bet it's the Pacers or maybe the Nuggets. I kid. It's probably whoever can get him a good lease deal on 2004 Dodge Durango.

Barkeep. Keep it on ESPN or the NBA channel. And I'll need some paper to keep track. And I need to concentrate, so I'm not drinking. Just a beer.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

So what happens after? After what? After you miss...

This is a political post.

The hot new trend in liberal circles is that Nancy Pelosi is a punk because she won't start immediately start impeachment proceedings, like yesterday. Or that the white Democratic establishment has turned it's back on it's non-white voters because they a) don't have the heart to go get it b) aren't affected as much by the current state of affairs as the rest of us c) may all secretly be Republicans d) may secretly be lizard people or d) all of the above. The twitter pundits and other self determined experts rail against Cheato's every golf outing, tariff proposal, unprofessional interjection into events and twitter rants, swearing and praying that the start of the process for impeachment will be the beginning of the end for this failed exercise in government.


First, just so we're clear, I'm all for exercising the appropriate tools for the removal of this political con-artist and a return to government of the people, by the people and for the people, to a much better state. There is the concept of attempted in modern law, such as attempted murder or attempted robbery. It carries a penalty too, maybe not as if you'd actually successful, but you don't get to walk away screaming "no harm, no foul." In my opinion even taking the meeting in to see if they had dirt on their opponent should have amounted to attempted conspiracy. But apparently I'm not in charge of anything. Honestly, I wake up and check my Twitter feed daily hoping for news that he's finally embarrassed himself falling down or maybe filling his diaper and he's just said "I quit" and scurried back to NY. I really cannot wait to get to the next chapter in America. We dun goofed.

But I digress.

Impeachment, much to Cheato's misunderstanding, is a political process, not a judicial one. And because it is political technically the Republican congress could have impeached Obama for that tan suit. Yes, it can be that petty. I don't know how it would have qualified as a high crime or misdemeanor, but I'm sure Fox News would have told us. Putting aside that reality, that impeachment can be for anything you want it to be, according to the actual members of the House and not the Democrats of House Pelosi don't actually have enough votes to pull off an impeachment. This whole thing isn't as cut and dried as we want it to be. There are plenty of purple districts out there. I know that evidence can be found and presented, investigations to fully expose and properly detail the infractions can be undertaken and that opinions will change. Slowly. I think when the hearings started on Nixon that less than 40% thought impeachment was the right process. By the end, well, old Tricky Dick didn't wait that long. So that part, the impeachment process can be done.

It's the Removal part that's the issue.

While the House votes on Impeachment, the Senate votes on Removal, and old Turtle McConnell ain't about to let the Senate find Cheato guilty of anything. Turtle didn't give the last president his proper Supreme Court appointment under the law with leeway he invented. So do you think in this process with actual real leeway McConnell is going to actually remove the head of own party? Not even a long-shot likely. Think of this like those cases where you have video and a clear understanding of the law and everyone can see what happened and the prosecutor goes well, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. Think of that outrage. That will be this. But this time on a national and international scale. We can forget to old Louisiana "dead woman or live boy" logic, the Senate as it sits now WILL NOT REMOVE HIM.

My question to all those "Impeach Now" zealots, when it the removal fails...and it will fail...what then?

Unfortunately this isn't like a failed vote to repeal Obamacare. You generally don't get to have three impeachments votes a week. We're breaking precedent left and right here, but this is a one-shot deal. So excuse my french but are you seriously like fuck Pelosi because she's decided she ain't gonna miss?

No, while those common internet and twitter pundits just want Cheato out of office, Nancy Pelosi wants his soul.

There are more ways to fight than one. And although the dramatic is satisfying, it's not always successful. Here the idea of impeachment, of actually throwing the want to be dictator out of office is enticing. Hell, I love it. But we need to admit right now it's just not viable. The end of this administration will have to be a slow, deliberate, brick by brick destruction. It has to be well conceived and properly executed or we all lose. And none of these pundits have any contingency plan. What happens if you can't remove him? And he claims exoneration. And that's pumped up by his own personal news/cheering section?

I'm all for impeachment, don't get me wrong. A long drawn out eight or ten month putting people in jail for not cooperating with the investigation style impeachment. That kicks off right around January or Feburary of next year. Right around when people get to running for President good. You know. When people are good and focused on politics. 

There is an old saying about two bulls on a hill overlooking a pasture of cows. Nancy is suggesting we walk.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Five minutes watching...Chernobyl

I don't watch a lot of movies because I didn't have a lot of time. A lot of movies and television of late have become more niche oriented and horrible, and Cartoon Network isn't always on point. So, I watch a movie or two, or five, when I'm not writing, or reading, or playing video games, or sleep. You know, I guess I really don't watch a lot of movies or television. Go figure.

I'm not a big fan of horror, and the HBO mini-series Chernobyl is quite frankly watching a horror movie that happens in slow motion. And by that I mean that being aware that large parts of the story really happened to see just how close it all came to falling apart is a different kind of disheartening. There are scenes that I had to watch three or four times. There are scenes that on a second viewing I just avoided. There were times I yelled at the TV and others where all I could do was shake my head. There is an existential dread from watching the final episode and realizing that the professional managerial attitude of "just get it done" truly is universal, crossing language and cultures to hold sway even in the control room of a nuclear control plant.

The five episodes are artfully shot, showing a green verdant Ukraine in the mid-80s as the backdrop of this Soviet setting. It's odd that only now do I realize that I would have thought that an explosion of a nuclear reactor  - which fired debris a mile straight up  - would have been more destructive. True fact: After reactor 4 exploded, the other three reactors were kept up and running. For years. Next to an open still burning nuclear accident the other reactors kept running. The region needed the power provided and honestly couldn't afford to shut them down. After that terrible moment of explosion, shot from a distance almost offhandedly, the horror begins creeping in. Inside the facility is confusion and denial. Then comes the mis-information from an noble but uneducated viewpoint. And then from a deliberate standpoint shirking responsibility. Desperation and realization seep in. And then in what appears to be absolute madness - the crass believe what I am telling you not what you have actually seen standpoint.
Chernobyl - HBO
The story moreover feels rooted in a sad kind of reality. The characters aren't bold and noble heroes, just people who are frequently hesitant and terrified to do what they know needs to be done, then doing it anyway. The small touches: the researchers in Kiev having to figure out there even is an issue, the reactions in meetings to the news getting out, the acknowledgement of what their own exposure will do to them as they press on, the Liquidators. Watching how these small pieces reacted was fascinating. Further, we see the system they had to work in was equally, quietly, just as terrifying. As one character put it "Our power comes from the perception of our power," and making it clear that revealing the full extent of the nuclear accident greatly dims that perception. And the focus on the immense value given that perception, both internal and external, to the detriment of the correction of the issue on such a grand scale makes it a compelling tale.  

I'm aware certain parts were altered for to make the episodic story tool work. The accompanying podcast has the writer talk about what parts of the narrative are true and what parts they had to take dramatic license with is equally as fascinating. More, they discuss they parts they left out, the myths and why they made the decisions they made. True fact: Two of the three guys who went under the reactor to open the sluice gates are still alive.  But the skill in the storytelling - in that I now mostly understand why the reactor exploded is amazing. I am not a nuclear physicist, but the scene where the character Legasov breaks down what occurred is just good writing.

When I got to the end, it was the realization of what had happened and how it's a situation that is all too mundane that made it all work. Chernobyl happened in essence because people "had to hit their numbers." That's it. A combination of things that happen in offices all over the world, in garages, in hot dog stands. That it happened in Soviet Russia, at a nuclear plant is just so ordinary. The plant managers falsified the safety check information when the plant was built to get their numbers and their bonus. The plant couldn't run the test during the day shift because the local economy had to hit their monthly numbers and couldn't afford a slowdown.

Those reasons sound all too familiar. And that's the really scary part.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

I am my own worst enemy

Ramblings Post #370
I don't do as many personal posts anymore. I don't do a lot of things I used to do. My legend reads that my intent was to approach middle age with "a shotgun and bad intentions," but I now I think that me and middle age can sit down and talk about it, preferably over a drink or two. I have purposely made this blog rather banal; television & movie reviews and other inane rantings. There was a time when this was like therapy. Back before people asked for your website information on your job application. Hey, what I do on my time is my business. Mostly.

I am my own overthinking.

One of my terrible habits in my personal life is the way that I overthink an issue, teasing out possibility after possibility until the only course that makes sense is to figure out how to build a time machine because the moment has passed. Now, in a business setting I can assess what is front me and execute with confidence, ready to make changes, adjustments and refinements as need be as the results of my decision unfolds. This willingness to commit has value, it could actually be considered a skill, and it was one of the reasons I did well at a particular "ranch" for quite a long time. The difference between personal and professional is stark and actually quite weird, at least from the inside.

Which brings me to my current dilemma caused by overthinking: I'm thinking maybe I'd go visit someone. Or rather, I'm trying to figure out what would be a good time to visit someone. No, what I'm really trying to do is ask to see if my visiting someone would be cool with them. Well, I'm kind of wondering if that's a good idea...

..... four hours later.... the bottom of all this I want to find out if something that was there, is still there. And if it's mutual. To see what's what and who is whom. See my good-ass English, eh?No, the truth of the matter is I know the old proverb: The journey of thousand miles starts with a single step. But then I'm also smart enough to realize even a walk to the mailbox starts with a single step. Or the kitchen. You can't tell with that first step. And there-in lies the rub. How many steps do get? A marathon or a far enough to get a bag of chips from the cupboard?

In my personal pursuits, I'm classic overthinker. Anyone of the many novels I'm trying to work through has a slew of notes chock full of information about back stories and side pursuits that don't even go into the story. Some that only serve to mentally flesh out tertiary characters who might only pop up for one scene. And those side stories also need to make sense. Otherwise none of it does. But then that's a situation where there is no real clock, no looming deadline. Tinkering is a thing. But with the clocking ticking I execute. Hmmmm...

So, what's this all about? I would like to go and see Sporty. Yes, that Sporty. From the before time, the long, long ago. I would like to have a nice dinner or something, face to face, or really any where we can sit and talk. Or maybe go to a play or catch some live jazz then sit and talk over a few drinks. Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like: A date. That's it, that's all. And yes, I would travel just for a date if she said she was with it. You ever encounter someone with whom everything feels comfortable, natural, magical? For me, that's her. Or at least it used to be.

Am I hanging onto a memory? Yes, very much so, one that I would prefer not to spoil if possible. And I'm probably only remembering the good parts too, but it's a great set of memories. And it would be nice to do that again. But one of the grand issues of overthinking..and personal empathy... is looking at the situation from the other person's point of view.  In reality, it's been a long time since she and I shared the same air, and although we text each other regularly, digital versus live is a real gulf. Who am I to her? I'm certain that she's charted her own path and is doing her own thing. So who would I be? I'm not even sure what I'm hoping for on the other side of this. Sigh.

If this were a work situation, I'd make a decision based upon the available information and then go from there. So why can't I do that in personal life?

(Part of me remembers when she used to read this and I would have posted this hoping to avoid the question, a clear passive-aggressive act on my part that I should be past at my age. Now I'm fairly certain nobody reads this anymore as I'm too infrequent.)

My only choice is to ask the question. The one I've been rolling over in my head - make funny? Imply something? Be vague? Be direct? etc., - for the past two weeks. Yes, I still put a lot of thought into her. And I need to do have this conversation soon, because as I said...she charts her own path.

It's who I am. An overthinker.

Barkeep. Why are there five beers on the...Thinker, I said THINKER. Well, leave'em. They're already out. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


Rambling Post #369
This should be a racy post, with the number on it and all that. But not really, because I'm a mature individual with goals and responsibilities. I have deeper thoughts, higher functions, and something real to say in world that has become increasingly trivial. That and I really didn't know that was going to be this number when I started writing. Oh poo.  

I am of the opinion, that in this world where there are people who take great pleasure in dressing up like stuffed animals and people who jump off buildings for fun, that there exist people - in Atlanta if nowhere else - who go out and get into traffic just because it's just so damn great. I call these lonely people who get on 285 at 6:45am and cruise at 53 mph until around 9am or so Trafficans. I used to believe that a combination of rain, hot asphalt and atmospheric anomalies created temporary driver mirages which slowed down the cities main transit routes, but that was crazy talk. Okay, I couldn't get the grant to study it. But this idea, this makes sense.

On the route I take in mornings there is no wavelength I can attune to, no regular traffic pattern that I've been able discern. Some drivers appear to be cruising along without a care in the world, a light changing to green merely a suggestion that forward motion might be acceptable. It confuses them. Or the slow driver who wants to leave a huge gap between them and the car in front of them, as though they don't realize that the lights are timed to allow X numbers of drivers through, and driving slowly reduces that number and is WHY WE HAVE TRAFFIC. Okay, maybe the 5000 cars on a road designed to support 1000 has something to do with as well, and the badly designed city plan that lets you add another 800 apartments to an already congested area contributes.... but the slow driving certainly isn't helping.

And the sad part is that this is now Summer in Atlanta, and by that I don't mean we have special calendar that gives us extra days of hot weather (I wish). I mean that school is now out, and that means that traffic should be dying down -- something about taking kids to school or buses or bad grades or something. But it doesn't appear to be happening. Which is why I'm blaming Trafficans!

You're lonely and at home just bored out of your mind. But you've got a car and quarter tank of gas and feel the need to make a left turn in the middle of the block where there is no light during rush hour, may I suggest you invest in a Netflix account. Sure you feel like a smidgen of human interaction will just make your day, but you're not interested in a $23 cup of coffee and the idea of just walking for a bit is crazy talk, but dude, I have things to do! Like important stuff,, get fried chicken. Or wings. Alright, I was going to get some comic books, but that's my business. What I don't need is your ilk on the road. Stay home Traffican!

Barkeep. I'm driving. No snide remarks, safety first. So make sure the lid is on it nice and firm. Thanks.   

Monday, May 20, 2019

The end of the Game..of Thrones.

Ramblings Post #368
My previous post got so many things wrong it wasn't even funny. A whole bunch folks I had written off not only survived, but came out the other shining. Wow. But now it's over and all that's left is the finger pointing. Sophie Turner who played Sansa feels that people dissatisfied with the ending are being disrespectful to the people - the artists, camera people, stunt folk, etc., - for all the effort they put into trying to make it the best show. But I think of it like going to a restaurant: I don't care how much effort the chef, the wait staff, the decorator put into all of it, if you serve me crap then it's bad restaurant. That's not disrespect, that's just real.

This whole thing is just loaded with Spoilers, so watch the episode first....
Great shot. I mean, the cinematographer and effects dudes worked this one. 
It's interesting how many folks found the image of Daenerys framed by wings of her dragon Drogon as she strode into speak to her victorious troops so iconic completely missed the fact that the scenes that followed invoked a rally in Munich in 1942. I mean, the shot wasn't particularly subtle either, nor was her speech about keeping the victory train rolling. As much as storytelling has created the idea in us that the hero is following their destiny, the idea that the villains motivation is also their belief in destiny shouldn't be lost. But then truth be told, the only satisfying ending for many viewers was for Daenerys to be crowned Queen, for her to then be completely supportive and understanding of the North's concerns and have the formidable Sansa also be crowned Queen of the North, Arya to do something majestic and all the male characters to just admit the women were better rulers than them and be accepting and ultra-supportive of their new futures as well. 

I'm starting to realize most of the commentary I have read on Game of Thrones has a particular viewpoint.

 We waited almost two years for this ending, which at best lackluster. It was not as horrible as How I Met Your Mother or Seinfeld, but it was only satisfying in the way that a jelly sandwich is when you were expecting well crafted pizza or a perfectly cook steak; you're not hungry anymore, which is was the point, but not really. To me, the whole season felt like the producers just started checking off boxes to get the ending they had been assigned. HBO offered them a full season, and probably would have given them two more just to keep it going a little farther. But they said nope, we can get it all in. They were wrong.

And the last episode has so many holes though it's hard to square up. So Jon kills Daenerys, and Gray Worm doesn't just kill him? They were cutting necks in the streets just minutes ago, now there is a call for justice. And after Daenerys goes down, her followers didn't immediately go crazy? After all, they were just cutting necks in the streets minutes ago. Wait, seeing as how they literally arrested and executed Varsys in five minutes for betrayal, why wasn't Tyrion ashed up immediately? What happened to Arya's prophecy about the eyes? Was that the whole Prince that was Promised thing? Was the whole point of Jon's heritage just to unhinge Daenerys? They didn't do a damn thing else with it. Why was everyone cool with Sansa saying the North would go it alone? I mean, damn, Yara was right there already mad and spitting fire! And finally, hold everything else - since nobody saw Jon hilt up the tyrant to be, how did they know? Did noble ass Jon confess? It should have been: Daenerys? Oh, she just left on Drogon. She's the Queen, she doesn't answer to me, I don't know where they went. Anyway, I'm headed back to Winterfell, toodles ...

She looks like she'll be a warm, benevolent ruler, doesn't she? Shot via HBO
I may have to sign the petition to request HBO redo the whole last season. And this time make it 15 episodes, so we can see how this all is really supposed to play out.

Apparently, according to this and so many other great series, endings are hard. Very hard. It has been clearly evident to the readers of the novels that Daenerys was going to go mad at some point. She not only bought the whole destiny to rule thing, she'd got the matching loveseat and ottoman. And to be honest, while she is good at the conquer part - what with her dragon cheat code - she's never demonstrated an aptitude for the actual ruling part. She'd "liberated" Slaver's Bay and Meereen only to muck them up and abandon them for more conquest, something she was about to continue in Westeros. She'd just destroyed the capital and had no real plans to rebuild, or feed, or even manage her new subjects. Just more conquest. But her fanbase however really loved her story arc and all it's triumphs, weeee!

For all the moaning about how uninteresting Jon Snow was as a hero, apparently most viewers don't realize he was (is) the author's avatar. But I never expected him to get the throne but he was a just dude who valued life in an age where killing was Tuesday afternoon. I had a theory that Arya would house Daenerys, then Jon would have to defend her and when Drogon goes to ash him it in front of everyone still living turns out he's fireproof as well, confirming his heritage for whatever. Then he'd reject the throne and head back up north, where he'd become a lumberjack, wait, wrong story. Stop at the head back up north part.

I personally found the ending ho-um. Neat, maybe a little too much for something that was so sprawling and gory. You just kind of expecting one last subversion, one last surprise, but I think the producers were already on to the next project in the mind. Or at least it felt that way. When they say that the book was better than the movie (or visual interpretation) this is what they're talking about. I think a lot of folks are going to read the books - should they ever get finished - just so they can sleep at night.

But here we are. It's over. done.  

So who really won the Game of Thrones? Did Bran have it rigged from the start? No, the winner clearly was Bronn. Because while Brienne got knighted, Grey Worm lived to the end, Samwell got to have a kid and Sansa got a kingdom all her own, good ole' Bronn went from busted ass Sell-Sword to owning the fabulous estates at HighGarden and a seat on the Small Council as Master of Coin, without having to fight the dead at the Battle of Winterfell or face Drogon at the Sack of Kings Landing. Pretty damn sweet if you ask me.

Barkeep. Some Dornish wine. What? Seriously, no one has cashed in on that yet? Wow. Okay, then whiskey and some water. Make it ice from the Wall. Seriously, no one? Slackers.

Monday, April 22, 2019

So, it was a game...of thrones? Like that?

Ramblings Post # 367
Good television is harder to come by than you think. This maybe the age of "peak TV," but there are a lot of valleys up around this range. And services like Netflix with their drop the whole season at once method are just throwing a monkey wrench in an already creaky service. It's hard enough to be able to discuss your favorite show, but unless you binge watch it the day it drops there is fair to middling chance your neighbor will spoil it for you. Where is the savor? The anticipation? Where is the drama? Still on cable...sorry.

That Game of Thrones season eight episode two has a lot to unpack is an understatement. We're on the eve of the big battle (maybe the first of two this season), most of the named characters have ended up in one spot and as the series heads for its climax we're getting the reflective moments, the we who are about to die dramatic tension build up. Only highbrow style. The author's been very stingy with the plot armor throughout this tale and along the way we've had some fairly memorable falls, from Ned Stark's beheading to the Red Wedding. But since the story left the books behind and it's in the hands of television writers to interpret the story, death's hand has been relatively still. TV contracts and all that. But this being the last season, a whole host of folks are about to eat it because why not. And the resulting streamlining will clean up the story-lines so we can get to the final showdown of either Jon or Dany - depending - with the real big bad, Cersei. Now, it has been suggested by my colleague that it will come down to Cersei versus the Night King, but then the Night King wins because the "mad queen" has no idea what she's facing. Not even with Qyburn and his crazy concoctions by her side. Then again, Theon's sister did make it point to mention she was going to take back the Iron Islands so there was be a retreat spot. So maybe the Night King does win at Winterfell. Or after the "good guys" win, and Winterfell is destroyed, it's the next stop on the final lap around the country.  I kind of doubt that ending, but this story has taken a whole lot of hard lefts, so anything is possible. 

In either case,  I do hope that last episode ends with whoever wins it all pulling it off with a half-hour of run time left to go and we get to see some of the aftermath. So let's start the death pool: 

So, my thinking is Theon is a goner. He'll die defending Bran from the Night King, or perhaps in an odd twist become the Night King for a few minutes. I'm still of the opinion that the King gets mutinied by one of his own followers who it turns out is Arya in a dead ice person's skin. But then I'm not the writer. Oh, and Bran makes it through, because they do end up killing the King. It's the along the way it gets really, really messy.

Tyrion lives only because Bronn is on his way to kill him. I'm thinking of it like the Iron Islands play, in that at this point there aren't a whole lot of red herring scenes left. Bronn shows up, and against his better judgement (and because Cersi paid him in advance) let's the imp live. 

Grey Worm may as well have announced he was retiring from the force as soon as this last case is over. The "what do you think we should do after this" talk is how the literati mark a character with a stab here tattoo on the forehead. That no longer foreshadowing, that's forestamping. I think he'll go down swinging, maybe even just as the battle winds down, where he has hope then gets struck down out of nowhere. But Missandrei sees the epilogue, if only so Grey Worm gets mourned.  

If Brienne hadn't gotten knighted, I was figuring she might have made it. But that tear inducing scene kind of closed out the arc for both her and Jamie, who should also die. I had hoped that Jamie, the Kingslayer would also end it by being the Queenslayer and kill his sister Cersi in the end when she flips out and get homicidal, but that would be too poetic. He's the younger twin, he fits the prophesy. That would be a TV turn, so it could happen, but that's low probability. What I find interesting is that everyone was so excited that Brienne got knighted by Jamie, that they missed she was trying to 'nighted by Podrick. No, seriously, watch that scene again. Last night in town, you go girl! 

Little Lyanna Mormont will live because reasons. I'm honestly not a fan of hers but she'll live because that's the kind of thing that happens on TV. In the book she'd die, because Martin is dick, but this is TV.  

The half the folks in the crypts get taken out. "The dead are already here." You know, the dead folks in the crypts? Starks killing Starks? It's gonna happen, they mentioned how safe the crypts were like 40 times, so it's obvious it's a death trap. How Jon didn't see that one coming after he watched the Night King literally raise an army of the dead I have no idea. And because Varyas is spy and not a fighter, he's in the crypt so he goes down. Damn shame too. 

Sansa I'm on the fence about. She'll be in the crypts for "safety." It would be really sad if she dies by a re-animated Ned or Catelyn's hand, but she's already put Dany on notice that if they live the Targaryen girl will rule the six kingdoms of Westros, if he half brother/cousin Jon don't ace her out. Her living would set the stage for the next two seasons of the show that they aren't going to shoot.  

Samwell and Jorah live because in this sort of story sidekicks aren't the drivers of emotion but the mourners of the fallen. But, it's an either or situation; if Jon lives then Sam bites it, if Dany lives that Jorah redeems himself in his own eyes going out in battle. But I'm pretty damn sure that Jon's gonna live. Maybe. Kinda sure. As I said, Martin is kind of a dick. 

And because the Hound and the Mountain haven't squared off, and this is TV, and the Zombie Mountain is still in King's Landing, the Hound lives through this. That fight should get a good five minutes in the last episode. 

Because I think Arya kills Cersei in the end, I think a faceless girl will make it. Gendry? That's about a fifty-fifty. 

And finally, Tormund has to live. I thought he might sacrifice himself for Brienne, but no I think he makes it. Because idiots like him always do. Otherwise who tells those insane stories?

The cracked up part? Dany's main thrust of finding out Jon's true lineage was "your claim is better than mine," which makes sense in part but sounds or feels incredibly self centered on the other. Not, I committed incest or our line lives, but you just cut the line in front of me. Makes me wonder if she won't take the heel turn and stab him in the back. That would set up an all heel championship match for Westros, but I could see it. Maybe.