Sunday, February 25, 2018

2018-02-25

Why didn't anyone tell me "The Tick" was back?!? While I'd been apprehensive when Amazon Video announced the new live-action version of the show last year, the first half of the season, released in August, quickly won me over. I still want to hear Patrick Warburton's voice, but Peter Serafinowicz is at least as quirky in the title role. I burned through those six episodes in no time (I rarely binge-watch, but I've made exceptions for "The Tick," "Stranger Things," and "Ash vs. Evil Dead"), and I knew there were more coming, but I guess I'd lost track of when.

Amazon, along with Apple, Roku, and Google's YouTube, is under fire facing demands to drop the National Rifle Association's channel NRAtv from its streaming services. I'm no fan of the NRA's radical-right leadership, but with the second half of season 1 of "The Tick" being released this past Friday, and the first season of "Personal Space" coming this Friday, I'll still be an Amazon customer for at least the near future. I suppose I could get through the remaining six "Tick" episodes tonight... but I'm going to try to savor them this time. One, maybe two tonight.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

2018-02-24

I went to the "International Sci-Fi Shorts 2" portion of the Philip K. Dick Film Festival for Nicki Clyne and "Personal Space," and stayed for "Nano," "The Last Protester," and other short films. Nicki played Cally on "Battlestar Galactica," and she and her late "BSG" colleague, Richard Hatch (Tom Zarek in the modern take, and Apollo in the original "BSG," for which I still have a soft spot), star in "Personal Space," a Web series that is deservedly coming to Amazon Video next weekend.

The first three episodes were screened at the festival, and they were a lot of fun! Clyne plays Gail Gartner, the incoming commander of the "second shift" of the generation ship Overture; Hatch is the first shift's commander, stalling his trip to cryo because he doesn't think the new shift (and its commander) can handle the responsibilities... and probably also because he doesn't want to let go of command. It was bittersweet to see him on-screen in one of his last roles, with the character resisting the order to turn over the ship and leave. Definitely looks like a fun show, though, with the hook being that the crew of the ship are unaware that their sessions with Ami, the "therapy computer," are being broadcast as a reality TV show back on Earth.

The five short films that were screened after "Personal Space" were all excellent, too. William Minsky's "Resonance" deals with a future where no one really sleeps, or dreams, anymore, and stars Briana Rayner. Mike Manning's "Nano," starring Brooke Butler, imagines a world where mandatory mobile-phone upgrades synched with bio-nanotechnology mean there's an app for just about everything, including changing your hair and eye color on the fly... and allowing law enforcement to temporarily paralyze their adversaries. Nicole Castillo's "The Last Protester" shows us yet another bleak future state where books are forbidden and smuggling them in is punishable by death, with Joe Duffy as a regime stalwart loyal to Elizabeth Lambert's Ambrose. "Sound from the Deep," directed by Antti Laakso and Joonas Allonen, is a rare venture into Lovecraftian territory (without directly adapting any of his stories, though there's definitely an "At the Mountains of Madness" vibe, with some "Dagon" thrown in) that has the right feel; it stars Lasse Fagerström and Eero Ojala. Lastly, Daniel Andrew Wunderer's "Shelter" stars Alexander E. Fennon as a man taking, well, shelter. And coming across the body of a boy with some odd wounds...

After all the films had been shown, Nicki Clyne and "Personal Space" producer Jeff Hammer talked a little about the show and took some questions. It was nice to learn that Nicki is also involved with the Knife Media, which "strips news of spin so it's just the news." Gods know we need less spin and more facts these days, all around.

Friday, February 23, 2018

2018-02-23

Surely, I can't be the only one tired of hearing how someone "destroyed" or "eviscerated" or "nailed to the wall" or "burned" or "shut down" someone else, when all that someone really did was make some good points to which the other party maybe had no adequate response. The hyperbole sucks on both sides, guys. If your person's argument or comment or putdown or quip was so perfect and infallible, then why hasn't everyone else just conceded defeat? Oh, right, they're too stupid and/or evil.

I realize that a lot of this is just the propaganda game, but some of us, liberals and conservatives and progressives and libertarians and socialists alike, are truly more interested in dialogue and finding ways we can move forward together than in winning pointless points via zingers. Not to say that the occasional zinger isn't fun, but c'mon now. Even when someone does get zinged, it doesn't mean that person is now incapacitated or physically damaged somehow.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

2018-02-22

When I started reading this list of NJ's 31 best dive bars, I wasn't expecting to see anyplace I'd actually visited... but as it so happens, I've been to the number one dive bar, the Straphanger (though they're actually billing themselves as the New Strap Hanger now), twice. Most recently last week for Fat Tuesday. lol

I don't tend to spend a lot of time in bars, but this fun place in Hackensack (-ackackack) is one I could honestly hang around in for a few hours. I had a couple of beers the first time around, and last week I opted for some hurricanes in honor of Mardi Gras; the drinks were good, the staff was efficient, and the crowd was friendly and casual.  I would (and probably will) go back to the Strap Hanger.

Might need to make a few trips and check out some of the others on the list, too, but I guess it's some sort of badge of... honor?... that I've been to Jersey's top dive bar. Heh.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018-02-21

I've got as much to say to you tonight as you've apparently got to say to me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2018-02-20

The mild feeling that I might grey out, and the ringing noise in my ears/head, seem to be fading away now, thanks for asking. What's that? You didn't ask? Well, then, who- You know what, forget I said anything.

Monday, February 19, 2018

2018-02-19

On March 24, the March for Our Lives will take place, and despite the popular #NeverAgain hashtag, I'm resigned to hearing about at least one more school shooting before then. I'm going to march; whether I go to D.C. or New York or someplace in NJ remains to be seen, but I'm going to march.

If you're a student, or a teacher, or you have kids, or you want to have kids, or you never want to have kids, or even if you hated school, you should march, too. If you think we need to figure out what it takes to keep kids from being shot in school, you should march.  That doesn't necessarily translate to "the only people who are going to march all hate and want to ban guns." I know a lot of people are agitating once again (or still, in many cases) for a ban on AR-15 rifles, or on semi-automatic rifles in general, or on personal gun ownership at all. I know those last two will never happen, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a ban on AR-15s, either. But I don't see this issue as black and white, as so many on both sides of the argument do. It's more nuanced than "no one should be allowed to own any guns at all" vs. "everyone should be allowed to own any gun they can afford." Unless you're a robot who only understands binary.

How 'bout we talk to each other like civilized, rational adult human beings and find middle ground? Or is that 200-year old "right to bear arms" so important and so sacred that it doesn't and will never matter how many innocents die or who is killed? Yes, I understand the argument about defending against tyranny, and yes, the Bill of Rights is dear to me... but the other amendments aren't open to interpretations that can get me (or someone visiting a house of worship, or a grammar school student, or... anyone, really) killed for no good reason. This one is. So maybe we can work on a compromise interpretation that allows for personal gun ownership while being a little more responsible about how much killing power gets into whose hands. As well as bettering the way we help those with mental health issues, including returning military veterans, and improving relations between law enforcement and communities, and the other issues at play here.

If we can't compromise, if we can't agree that something has to change and then sit down to discuss what changes can be made to which we can all agree, this issue is eventually going to tear this country apart. I just can't imagine that there are people out there who see the deaths weekly, not just the mass shootings but the suicides by gun and the little children who pick up guns and unknowingly shoot themselves or others and the arguments that turn deadly, and concede that they're tragic but would rather keep the status quo than try to make it better. I'm not saying I know how to make it better. I'm saying I can't live with it the way it is, and I would rather look for a solution than try to make political points or hide behind a law written by men who had no idea how firearms technology was going to advance over the following two centuries. Still. Keep the amendment intact (unless there's enough of an outcry to repeal it, and again, I don't see that happening), but let's find common ground for interpreting it in light of current technology. Or just call it quits and split ourselves into two separate nations. Which is ridiculous, but when enough people want to change the situation and enough other people refuse to even consider it...

I'm proud of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL, and the other students around the country, who are organizing the March and other events and taking the lead in demanding change. They shouldn't have to be the ones fighting to keep children like themselves safe, but the fact that they're doing it has me feeling a little more hopeful about this country. I'll be marching in solidarity with them. I hope you will, too. And let me know if you want to join me.