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Yet Another Grab Bag of Stuff On My Mind I Feel Compelled to Share Because the World Doesn’t Have Enough Hot Takes

I never really thought Donald Trump would ever be indicted for anything, so the last couple months have been a pleasant surprise. Baby steps. Now if the GOP would just get off their “laws for thee, not for me” kick.

Speaking of orange shit no one wants, having to deal with air quality issues is new and unwelcome. We haven’t had the radical change in coloration that New York has suffered from, but the numbers haven’t been great. I almost wish we did have that apocalyptic tint to the sky, because just looking (and smelling) around, you wouldn’t know anything was amiss even though the AQI numbers look alarming. I just hope we don’t get this in the heat of summer, when we’re going to desperately want to open windows.

Four shows we’ve been watching wrapped recently — “Succession,” “Barry,” “Ted Lasso,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I can’t remember a time when so many series ended nearly simultaneously. The first three had solid endings, though to my mind only “Barry” had any real surprises. As for “Mrs. Maisel”…we stopped watching that two episodes into the final season.

SPOILER ALERT FOR THIS NEXT BIT
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

“Succession” ended the only way it could without betraying the show. The fun of watching it was always seeing those godawful miserable people doing miserable things to each other. Like “Ted Lasso,” it told its story in a straightforward linear fashion. I wouldn’t have been able to peg where “Ted Lasso” was going from the first season, though having a big win at the end is par for the course in that kind of show, and it was pretty clear at the start of season three that Ted was ready to go back home. “Barry,” on the other hand, elicited joyous “what the hell?!” moments all the way to the end, with the biggest one being that time jump where suddenly he’s…married (or something)? In Nebraska? With…a kid?

Which brings me to “Mrs. Maisel.” First episode of the last season, we’re in the early 80’s looking at a character we’ve never seen before. It turns out to be Midge’s daughter, talking about her mother, and they don’t seem to have a great relationship. Midge’s kids have barely been a presence in the last four seasons though, so how are we supposed to care? At the same time they indicated Midge’s career has been successful, effectively spoiling what I always thought was the central question of the series. Then they go back to the 60s, blah blah. Episode two, they jump forward again, via a late-career interview on “60 Minutes.” We get clips of her performances, and hints that some of her relationships have gone sour, more spoilers. Then they go back to the 60s again. We watched the rest of that episode, and bailed.

Here’s where I think they screwed up – if you’re going to have a flash-forward in a story, you have to leave the viewer/reader thinking, “Wait, WHAT? How did that happen?” In “Mrs. Maisel,” these flash-forwards didn’t hold much surprise. It’s the kind of show where you more or less expect her to be successful, and four seasons in we know she has a selfish/difficult streak, so tortured relationships with family & friends are hardly a surprise. These flash-forwards felt more like an epilogue printed out of place. They both spoiled the main story, and didn’t contribute any new questions to be answered.

END OF SPOILERS AND LONG-WINDED ANNOYANCE AT THAT SHOW I LIKED BUT COULDN’T FINISH

Oh! And “The Muppets Mayhem”! So much fun.

Apple’s new Vision Pro does look spiffy, but I can’t see ponying up for one just yet. Not because they’re pricey, but because I find it hard to envision (sorry) a use case for them that can’t be adequately met with devices we already own. Still, I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to give them a test drive…

Fast cars go fast.

It took wa-ayyy longer than it should have, but I think I finally get the whole compressor pedal thing. Now I just need to swap the envelope filter back into the chain…

Anyway, time to get back to the book I’ve been reading…

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Who is the Mandalorian? And other random garbage on my mind lately

I don’t know what annoys me more, the unending hot takes about Star Wars, or that we’re going to be spending the next decade watching Disney try to retcon Episode IX into some semblance of coherence.

So it turns out this here website is one of the millions that have been used to create the textual slurry of ChatGPT et al. Did they ask my permission? No. Would I have given it? No. Is there anything I can do about it? Not until someone with deeper pockets launches a class action lawsuit. Even then, I’ll get…what, the next ten Bing searches free? I’ve never had any expectation of getting paid for this site, but it kind of pisses me off that billion dollar corporations are taking my writing to fatten their own coffers. Yes, they do this with search engines, but at least that’s driving traffic to the originators.

That last season of The Mandalorian was a bit of a shaggy dog story, eh?

I’m told people who are disappointed in the Dominion vs Fox News outcome were not being realistic. If so, count me among them. I always knew Fox would get away with nothing more than a financial slap on the wrist, but had hoped the trial might at least go on a little longer. And don’t come at me with “787 million is a lot of money.” You know that’s going to be structured in a way they’ll barely feel the hit. The NY Times has a headline that reads “Everybody Knows What Fox News Is Now,” but…really? Do they? Everybody knows who already knew. Anyone who didn’t still doesn’t.

The Mandalorian is Din Djarin. The Mandalorian is Bo-Katan Kryze. The Mandalorian is Din Grogu. Whoops, spoilers.

It was super weird watching the Starship rocket explode while everyone kept cheering like it was the climax firework of the Fourth of July. I get that it was a test flight that they learned a lot from, but it’s hard-wired into me that rockets going boom = bad day.

Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in his own words is very well done. I’ve only spent a little time there so far, but will be digging into it more deeply.

This is the way.

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Achoo!

Whoa. Where’d that come from?

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A handful of things I’ve been sitting on but not in a literal way that would be weird

How the ring got good: Turns out The Lord of the Rings didn’t spring forth from Tolkien’s head fully formed. Which honestly shouldn’t surprise any of us, especially anyone who’s tried to create something of any substance. I have no real interest in The History of the Lord of the Rings, but I’m glad it exists. I wish there was more of it for books. With movies, and to some extent music, I think we all know the iterations and edits that happen, but for novels it’s unfortunately only Major Works like LoTR that get this kind of treatment.

Jason Kottke links to a recent Jon Stewart video (Jon Stewart Calmly Dismantles Gun Zealot), with a weary sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

The new Black film canon: Also courtesy Kottke — another list of movies we’ll be working through. The list is mostly American, but not entirely. There are some African movies as well, which in this house means they count double!

The Deep Archeology of Fox News

Full headline here: CPAC Speaker Calls for Eradication of ‘Transgenderism” — and Somehow Claims He’s not Calling for Elimination of Transgender People I know about CPAC, and am well aware that right-wingers (cough) Nazis (cough) have been attacking LGBTQ+ people all over the place, but hadn’t heard about this particular guy until this article. Fun fact — note the mug in front of him in the photo at the top of the article. My sister’s a fan of hers. Weird, huh.

I actually just found out about this — they’ve remastered the old Fleischer Superman shorts! Gonna need to get my hands on those.

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And now, for an only slightly misrepresented, wholly taken out of context quote of the day

“Please don’t die, I have a bowel movement to make.”

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Perfect score!

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2022 Reading Recap

My reading slips holder is stuffed, so it’s time for this year’s recap of stuff I read. The grand total is, let’s say around 80 books & comics. I counted the slips of paper, but there was one duplicate, and at least one book I forgot to write down, because I read it on my iPad while away from home. Plus, I expect I’ll squeeze in at least one or two more books before the year is out.

In no particular order, here are some highlights:

  • I re-read both the original Ms. Marvel run by G. Willow Wilson and Paper Girls, thanks to new series coming out on Disney+ and Amazon, respectively. It’s always interesting to see how the stories change when they jump from one medium to another. The Paper Girls comic is definitely better than the streaming series.
  • There was only one DC comic in the whole pile — Wonder Woman: Dead Earth. The note I scribbled for that one is “BATMAN ALWAYS WINS.” She uses Superman’s spine as a weapon, if that tells you anything.
  • No surprise to anyone who follows comics, but Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands was a standout.
  • The vast majority of my comics reading is somewhere on the indie spectrum, or at least not Marvel/DC. Some worth checking out: Weegee: Serial Photographer, Kabul Disco, Rat Queens (always), Impossible Jones, Ron Randall’s Trekker, the Reckless series, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, Dragon, Second Coming, vol 2.
  • I re-read two novels, Foundation and Earth and The Secret History. Revisiting Asimov is a trip. Tartt’s book probably holds up better, though Asimov will always have a special place for me, since he was my introduction to adult sci-fi back in the day.
  • Razzmatazz (sequel to Noir) was a hoot, and may be my favorite novel of the year. Reading Noir first isn’t required, but I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to.
  • Holy shit, Sin du Jour. Seven novellas, reads like a Netflix limited series, highly recommended if you like twisted urban fantasy.
  • In YA/MG, I would recommend The Clackity, A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, and The Bridge Home. The first two of those are more fantastical, while the last one is most definitely not. In fact, The Bridge Home is probably the biggest gut punch I’ve read in a while. Horrible things always happen to kids in YA/MG, but there’s a difference when the element of fantasy is entirely removed.

…and just for completeness, I’m currently reading The Spare Man and Slow Horses. The jury’s still out on both, though I am enjoying them so far (and I super dig the Slow Horses series on AppleTV). I do have questions about Mary Robinette Kowal’s use of “nethers,” though…

UPDATE: I almost forgot non-fiction! These get their own bulleted list:

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SPA-AA-AACE!

There’s no big story here, just something I wanted to make. The original design is taken from a 1968 book titled I See the Earth!, which I originally learned about from Dreams of Space – Books and Ephemera. Highly recommended if you’re into vintage space stuff or retro futurism.

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What are you hiding from, lil buddy?

Inspired by a re-read of G. Willow Wilson’s (art by Adrian Alphona) Ms. Marvel run. I had completely forgotten about Loki showing up and leaving behind the Lightning Golems, let alone the random kids showing up in full hazmat gear for no apparent reason.

A process note, if anyone cares — I modeled and rendered the characters in Maya, but couldn’t come up with an environment I liked. So, I pulled a render into Procreate, redid the line work and then used RetroSupply Co’s ColorLab to create the distressed halftone look. Click the image for a larger version that shows the halftone better.

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Holy Moley White People Are Awful

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