I’ve long been a fan of the Onion A/V Club, a website dedicated to pop culture and home to a ton of excellent writers from the early days of the web. Some time ago they got merged into Gawker and when that family of sites imploded they were able to hang on, most likely because of the quality of their work. G/O Media, the new corporate owners of the old Gawker sites, are now basically pushing the longest tenured writers at the A/V Club out in a pretty blatant move to bust up their union and hire cheaper workers in a race to become yet another middling entertainment site. I can only hope they follow the lead of the writers at Defector and build their own thing together.

Date posted: January 19, 2022 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Jen and I watched all six episodes of Hawkeye on New Year’s Eve and I enjoyed them immensely. It’s got a good mix of humor and drama and does a good job of showing how much wear and tear the non-super superheroes absorb when they’re saving the world. It’s a loose adaptation of the Matt Fraction comic run that I enjoyed; I liked how much they humanized the characters (Hawkeye wears a hearing aid due to all of the explosions and battles he’s been in the middle of) and enjoyed the cameos toward the end. We definitely need to watch Black Widow and catch up on things.

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The first episode of The Book of Boba Fett was good too. It was basically just table-setting; I wasn’t expecting to be thrown into a wacky adventure out of the gate, so I don’t agree with the reviews I read that panned it. I’m looking forward to seeing where they take this.

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We had some technological issues finding it, but we also watched the Return to Hogwarts special. (We have HBO through Hulu, and it was not available there, so I had to log in to Hulu on my laptop, run an HDMI cable from that to the TV, and mirror my screen because it blanked out when I tried to use AirPlay. Wasn’t that easy?)

The special was good; most of the good stuff has already been leaked to the press so there wasn’t anything new or interesting to hear about. It’s 2 hours long, and I’d say 1/3 of that was clips from the movies. But it was great to see the cast and hear them talk about their experiences and see how much they enjoy being around each other. It made me miss the movies all over again. Who’s up for another visit to the Wizarding World?

Date posted: January 2, 2022 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

As I mentioned earlier this month, I’ve been listening a lot to the new Deafheaven album, Infinite Granite, and I really dig it. Very atmospheric, excellent melody, lots of energy.

Baltimore’s own Turnstile released a new album, Glow On, which sounds really good on first listen. I really loved their last album, a mixture of powerful vocals, shredding guitar, and pure hardcore energy. This one is more polished but the fact that they’re just going for it with every idea they have is amazing.

And, as mentioned before, Chvrches just released a new album that I haven’t listened to yet. I’m embedding it here to remind myself to spin it as soon as I’m in front of the laptop again.

On the streaming front, I watched the last season of Bosch on Amazon Prime and enjoyed every minute of it. I’d read this was the last season and wondered if they had any plans beyond this, and my hunch was correct: three of the main characters are going to continue in a new series over on IMDb TV (apparently that is A Thing) where Bosch, his daughter, and another character will fight crime in LA. I’ll miss all of the supporting characters I was familiar with from the book and series—Crate and Barrel, J. Edgar, Lt. Billets, Sgt. Mankewicz, etc. but they’ve had seven great seasons.

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In my podcast queue I found a couple of new shows I really like. Strong Songs features a careful deconstruction of a song, spanning multiple genres, as well as careful explanations of basic music theory. I came for his episode on Know One Knows and was hooked. I have two friends currently teaching music history and theory and immediately shot the link off to them. There are three seasons dating back to 2018 so I’m set for awhile.

SmartLess is a podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett, and they are always able to get incredible guests to come on and talk about anything and everything. They got Kamala Harris the week she was asked to be the VP; they’ve had Paul McCartney and Megan Rapinoe and Tony Hawk and many more.

I Spy is a podcast produced by Foreign Policy and features stories told by spies about their experiences in danger zones around the world: a CIA agent before the fall of Saigon, the guy who interrogated Saddam Hussein, and a Soviet sleeper agent sent to the U.S. before the end of the Cold War. Riveting and fascinating. This was my binge on the way home from Ohio a few weeks ago.

Cautionary Tales is about mistakes that we make and how we might learn from them. The last episode I listened to was about how we depend on tools like Microsoft Excel, how we often use them incorrectly, and how that can lead to disaster. It’s a better version of Malcom Gladwell’s podcast.

Date posted: September 4, 2021 | Filed under entertainment, general, music | Leave a Comment »

I’m not a fan of Black Shoegaze or whatever they call it, and I wasn’t into Sunbather, but this is a great fucking song.

Date posted: August 19, 2021 | Filed under entertainment, music | Leave a Comment »

Finn and I used to love to watch a show called Yo Gabba Gabba on PBS when she was a toddler, a show which defies easy description but we both loved.

One of the highlights of the show was when Biz Markie came on and did Biz’ Beat of the Day; I think Finn was a little confused by it but I was happy to see him getting some love. We got tickets to see Yo Gabba Gabba live at the Lyric and took her to the show, and they did a great job with getting the kids up to dance and sing, like they do in the show.

But the highlight was when Biz Markie came out and did a live beatbox, AND THEN BUSTED INTO YOU SAY HE’S JUST A FRIEND. All of the toddlers in the audience were shocked when their parents got up and started singing to the song, and it was awesome.

RIP Biz. Gone too soon.

Date posted: July 16, 2021 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

It was with great delight that I read Disney was producing a streaming series based on the Mysterious Benedict Society, a series of novels we read as a family after we finished the Harry Potter books. It’s the story of four gifted children with different skills who come together to solve a mystery. We started it during my stint in chemotherapy, so I have memories of falling asleep on the bed as Jen or Finn read their chapter, lulled peacefully into oblivion by the gentle story and the sound of their voices. The series is excellent so far. Although several of the adult cast were not who I saw in my head, I like them more and more. They’re doing a great job with production design and story, and I hope it maintains its quality until the end of this series.

Another new favorite: Clarkson’s Farm, on Amazon Prime. Most people write off Jeremy Clarkson as a blowhard English television presenter (and to be fair he’s said his share of stupid and racist things) but, as with Howard Stern, I think he’s mellowed and matured as he’s aged. The new series began filming in 2019, right before COVID, showing how he took over management of his huge farm in rural England. As with a lot of his best work on Top Gear, it’s less about poking fun at the subject and more about skewering himself—here showing his audience just how hard farming is, and just how little he knows about any of it, even though he’s owned one for over ten years. It’s a wonderful window into rural England—and fun to watch.

Date posted: July 9, 2021 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

Adult Swim canceled one of my favorite shows, the Venture Brothers, last year, with little fanfare. They announced today they’re going to produce a follow-up movie for the series along with Metocalypse and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, two other canceled shows. It’s not as good as having a whole season, but I’d love to see things wrapped up (and have a little more time with Team Venture).

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I haven’t mentioned the Mustang here because, well, it’s not here yet. The seller was being a little iffy about the possibility of it making an hour-long drive and crossing a 3-mile bridge with no breakdown lane, so we postponed the pickup and explored other options. I talked with Matt yesterday and he’s arranged for it to be towed here this afternoon, as he didn’t want us to get stuck on the bridge or somewhere in Eastern Maryland with a car we hadn’t ever driven. Which is, frankly, fine with me: as much as I’d love to road-trip it across the bridge, I’d rather do the 1-10-100 test with my USAA towing card handy.

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In other news, I dusted off my acoustic guitar a couple of days ago, tuned it up, and put it behind my desk in the office. There are a bunch of simple songs I was learning back when I was taking lessons ten years ago—sweet creeping Jesus time has flown—and recently decided I’d like to pick this thing back up and learn them again. I found my notes and chord books and I’ve worked on the progressions for two songs already, and my fingertips already hurt. But it’s nice to make music again!

Date posted: May 14, 2021 | Filed under cars, entertainment, music | Leave a Comment »

I just listened to a great podcast: Radiolab interviewed John Scott, a NHL player who skated for 10 seasons as a goon and was, improbably, voted by fans to be the captain of the All-Star team for his division. The story gets better from there:

You don’t have to like hockey, or even give a shit about sports to like this story.

Date posted: March 5, 2021 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Aw, man. Nimona, a comic book written and published while the author was a student at MICA, was released and earned rave reviews, multiple awards, and sold a ton of copies. Blue Sky Studios, the folks responsible for the Ice Age series and some other excellent animated movies, picked up the story and have been in serious production on the movie adaptation since 2015.

Well, Blue Sky just got bought by Disney, and announced that they are killing the movie entirely. Reasons given abound, but the reality is that the story features two gay men as main characters. I can easily imagine the suits at the Mouse spending maybe three minutes tops discussing how damaging the story would be to their lily-white heteronormative brand before greenlighting Toy Story 17 for immediate production. Fuck the Mouse.

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As an extremely educated man, my grandfather had all kinds of books in his house. Because there wasn’t much else to do there when we visited, my sister and I read everything that was halfway interesting and a lot of stuff that wasn’t; that’s where I read Profiles in Courage and learned about JFK, and then read all about his assassination conspiracies in The Book of Lists. Grandpa had a bunch of books about 20’s era automobiles and World War I planes, but I was much more interested in World War II and that era, probably because my Dad had a bunch of books about it. I never really got why Grandpa liked that stuff, but given the age difference and his upbringing, I see how the cycle continues: His Great War was my Dad’s Korea to my Gulf War. Either way, I find military history fascinating.

The Naval History and Heritage Command is an incredible repository of information. I often will kill time in a waiting room or on the train looking at the history of an obscure warship or campaign, but often the easily available history will have only the basic information. In a series of articles, the director digs deeper into the histories of people, events and warships and provides a jumping-off point for further research. I could lose days in here.

Date posted: March 1, 2021 | Filed under entertainment, family | Leave a Comment »

Sadly, the French electronic duo announced their split this morning, which is as shitty as Monday news gets.

Thomas Bangalter was in another group called Stardust that put out an earworm called Music Sounds Better With You, the video for which captures so much of being around Finley’s age, making model airplanes and watching MTV.


Date posted: February 22, 2021 | Filed under entertainment, music | Leave a Comment »