Monday, April 19, 2021

Is There No Other Game In Town?

There are some fast food places in our area that no matter what time of day you go, there is always a line.

Chik-Fil-A is always busy. And it's not limited to a certain location where the service is a bit better or the food is a bit better. No matter which Chik-Fil-A  you go to in Greensboro, there will be not only a line but a very long line, circling around the building once or twice.

Cook Out is another one where it doesn't seem to matter which location or the time of day, a visit for their flame grilled burgers or their thick shakes will be a long wait. I remember driving by a Cook Out location after 10 PM and saw there was a line circling around the building and snaking back into an adjoining parking lot.

And there's Biscuitville which is opened only for breakfast and lunch and damned if people do not make the most of those hours. Again, the location doesn't matter. One time I promised Andrea a Biscuitville breakfast and the location I went to had not one but two long parallel lines of cars. So I opted to try another location and found once again there were not one but two long parallel lines of cars. 

What is it with it these particular franchises? They do produce quality food but is it really worth the cost in time? 

They are not the only game in town but sometimes we make that calculation that something is worth the extra effort.

When someone approaches a Buscuitville with a mile long line and there's a McDonald's right next door also serving breakfast and without a line, the calculation to take the hit and wait in the long line is worth it.  

Yesterday, Andrea had a hankering for a Cook Out hamburger and shake. I arrived at one of their locations with a line snaking far and away from the Cook Out building. It was going to be a long wait but damn they have some really good hushpuppies and their pineapple banana milkshake is the bomb.

I sighed and took my place in line.

Sometimes, no, there is no other game in town.  

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Cinema Sunday Redux: Citizen Kane and A Face In the Crowd


Recently, I had a chance to re-watch some movies that I wrote about last year. It was midnight and TCM was running Citizen Kane. I wasn't intending to watch it but I found myself caught up in this amazing movie and watched all the way to it's end at 2:00 AM.

I posted about Citizen Kane last year.  

When one sees Citizen Kane for the first time, Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane is the movie's inescapable center of gravity, a performance of incredible power and nuance. 

Watching it again and again, one begins to look beyond the center and take greater notice of other performances. In the past, I've taken particular notice of Joseph Cotten as Jedediah Leland, the one friend who wanted to believe in the early idealism of Kane but is all too aware of Kane's self destructive need to service his own ego. 

This last time, I gave more consideration to the performance of Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein. Perhaps Kane's biggest booster and supporter, even in the dark times of Kane's aged decline, Bernstein is not oblivious to the darkness in Kane's heart and the terrible losses he ego brought upon himself. Listening to Bernstein talk to the reporter after Kane's death is to hear the cracked voice of a man who despite everything is still loyal to Kane the man and the ideal.

One recent Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to catch A Face In the Crowd which I wrote about last year.  Again, like Citizen Kane, this is a movie where the center of attention absorbs almost all of the light and oxygen. Andy Griffith as Lonesome Rhodes is a dynamo of dramatic energy, bouncing from folksy country singer and storyteller to a power mad force of growing political importance. In modern terms, he would likely be diagnosed as manic depressive, screaming to euphoric highs to crashing to self loathing lows. 

Anyone who is familiar with Andy Griffith only as the genial Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry will be in for a shock. 

Again, watching a movie like this again affords opportunities to look beyond the obvious center of attention.  In A Face In the Crowd, Patricia Neal as Marcia Jeffries is a performance filled with pain, her passionate affection for Rhodes, his betrayal of that affection with other women, the twisting pain in her gut when she realizes the unhinged monster she is responsible for creating and the agonizing guilt of her own betrayal of Rhodes even when it was the right thing to do.  Jeffries is shattered by her association with Rhodes but ultimately she is a stronger person than Rhodes.

Also note worthy is Walter Matthau as Mel Miller, a TV writer who is treated with disdain and mockery by Rhodes. Mel ain't got time for this shit and moves on. But he returns when Marcia Jeffries is at her lowest point and stands by her when she stands up to Lonesome Rhodes. And Walter Matthau really delivers a solid punch with Mel Miller's final judgement of Lonesome Rhodes: worse than being forgotten, Rhodes will slide into irrelevancy. He'll still find some network or station that will put him on TV but at diminishing returns, lower ratings, declining influence. 

Citizen Kane and A Face In the Crowd are two incredibly complex films that I can watch more than once. Even with multiple viewings, these are films that remain thought provoking and inspiring.   

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Songs For Saturday: Prince, the Police and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs


For today's Songs For Saturday, our play list features songs that start at super fast tempo and then stay there, an unrelenting super fast rhythm from start to finish.  

Let'd kick things off with Prince and the Revolution with "I Would Die 4 U" 

"I Would Die 4 U" is the 4th single from the classic Prince album Purple Rain.  

Up next is another song that starts fast and does not let up. From the Police, here is "Synchronicity I".  

If you want to get real deep,  "Synchronicity I" features lyrics that are inspired by Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity. Also included in the lyrics is a term from "The Second Coming," "Spiritus Mundi" (translating to "spirit of the world"), which William Butler Yeats used to refer to the collective unconscious, another of Jung's theories. 

If you don't want to get to deep, "Synchronicity I" sure does go fast, don't it?

Rounding our play list for today is this song from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Zero".

"Zero" was named the best track of 2009 by both the New Musical Express (NMEand Spin magazines.

And that is that for today's Songs For Saturday. Until next time, remember to be good to one another and to always keep the music alive.  

Friday, April 16, 2021

No Blog Post Friday

 Not much of a blog post today.

I've been back at work now for 4 months and after an 8 hour day that doesn't end until 8 PM, a blogger might be a bit foggy on coming up with a blog post sometimes.

Or maybe I have a better, more compelling reason for being busy.

Yep, an invasion from outer space!

Weird green squishy alien things with tingly tentacles and zap shooters and things, laying siege to my humble abode here at the Fortress of Ineptitude. 

A terrible and relentless thing, fighting this invasion from outer space!

Oh, I have seen so many terrible things! 

I have seen... so much. 

And that my friends is why there is no blog post today. 

And that my friends is also the true meaning of Christmas.

Thank you and remember to be good to one another. 

And watch out for those tingly tentacles and zap shooters! They hurt! 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Random Stuff

In Monday's post about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, I may have been a bit cavalier about the side effects.

While I've had some low level aches (which is pretty much my status quo), my wife Andrea got hit a bit harder. She wasn't feeling well at all on Monday but she still powered through her work day. But when she got off work and checked her temperature, she was running a fever of 101 degrees.  Thankfully, the fever broke soon after but the body aches and nausea continued on so bad, she called in sick Tuesday and Wednesday.

In Tuesday's post, I commented that Aaron Rodger's turn as guest host of Jeopardy was OK but didn't see him as the next permanent host. Apparently, I am alone in that opinion. 

I have seen numerous entertainment posts that Aaron is doing an exceptional job and is making a strong case to be new host of Jeopardy. 

I will concede Aaron is a nice guy and he as an affable sort of charm but I'm just not seeing what everybody else is seeing in the guy. Maybe he's benefiting from coming right after the incredibly wrong in so many ways Dr. Oz. 

I have not commented on the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd last summer. It does seem like the prosecution has made a solid case for conviction and that the defense is not at all solid. 

But we've been down this road before. We've seen cases before of a police officer using excessive force against an African American man with overwhelming evidence only to see the officer acquitted.  

If justice is served and Derek Chauvin is convicted, it will be an exception to what has gone before. 

Apropos of nothing, I have also not commented on the recent death of Prince Phillip. It's because of Prince Phillip that Andrea started watching The Crown because Matt Smith was cast as Phillip in seasons 1 and 2 and Andrea will watch anything with Matt Smith. Matt has moved on and we're still stuck watching The Crown. 

I found it amusing that when the BBC decided to forego their regular programming for a 24 hour royal death watch, the BBC received a shit ton of complaints. And I totally get that. Really, once the man is dead, what more can be said?

"You are watching the BBC. At this hour, Prince Phillip continues to be dead. And the penguin on top of your telly will explode." 

OK, that's all I've got for today. Until next time, remember to be good to one another.   

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Losing Our Religion

 When I was a kid, I grew up in a house where we went to church each Sunday.


My mom, dad and I were members of a Baptist church where we would attend in the morning for Sunday school and the worship service at 11 AM.

Then we were back that evening for an evening service at 7 PM preceded by other activities. For me, Sunday evening was when I was subjected to youth choir practice.

Just want to establish my bonafides that I'm a guy who grew up with the idea that Sundays were for going to church.

The church was part and parcel of my life as much as any habit is formed and codified over the years.

These days, not so much. 

I have over the last few years found the foundations of the church challenged and found wanting.

I am currently a member of a Methodist church which is fairly progressive in it's thinking compared to say your hard core evangelicals. 

But I also know that whenever my shadow did darken the door of the church, I was surrounded by people who did not share my values. 

I was surrounded by people who voted for Donald Trump. 

I was surrounded by people who did not accept my daughter Randie after she came out. 

Oh, every one was chill about it. No one came to church wearing MAGA hats but people talk and I would hear things.

No one got in Randie's face to tell her she was going to hell or something like that but people talk and she would hear things. 

A few years ago when I attended my first gay pride event, I was struck by the overwhelming feelings of love and joy everywhere. Well, everywhere except where the "Christian" protesters showed up.

When I was a child, I may have been naive and blissfully unaware of any darkness in the Christian faith but I knew what Christians are for. Jesus loves you, this I know for the Bible tells me so. 

In recent years, it seems Christians have made more of a name for themselves for what they are against. 

Jesus loves you... but damn you to hell if you

are gay

or trans-gender

or had an abortion

or an illegal immigrant 

or believe climate change is real 

or think social distancing is an effective means to fight the pandemic 

or you think Donald Trump is not a messenger from God but might in fact indeed be a fucking moron

or use the word "fuck" in a sentence.

There seem to be a lot of things that Christians are angry about and are vehemently against. And this anger manifests itself in naked grabs for political power. 

No wonder the Christian church is not very appealing these days.

I will concede that all Christians are not like this. I will even endeavor in the hopeful aspiration at most Christians are not like this. 

But too many are and they have an outsized influence over a faith that I think would not be recognized by the Son of God whose name is above the front door.  

Amanda Marcotte wrote for Salon  about this topic. Here is some of what she had to say: 

The religious right isn't nearly as interested in feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless as much as using religion as an all-purpose excuse to abuse women and LGBTQ people. In an age of growing wealth inequalities, with more and more Americans living hand-to-mouth, many visible religious authorities were using their power to support politicians and laws to take health care access from women and fight against marriage between same-sex couples.

This echoes what I said before, that the Christian church is subsumed more for what it's against than what it's for. And this is has led to a major push for influence over politics, to buttress through conservative courts the harshest edicts against those who are an affront to their faith.

And this effort to bolster the influence of the Christian church through political power is having the opposite effect. 

Here's what Amanda Marcotte said about that in her article for Salon.  

It's a story with a moral so blunt that it could very well be a biblical fable: Christian leaders, driven by their hunger for power and cultural dominance, become so grasping and hypocritical that it backfires and they lose their cultural relevance. 

In short, the new blood needed to sustain any ongoing enterprise is looking at the modern day Christian church and saying no thanks.  

Who needs all that rage and hate and fear? 

A lot of Christians like to think they are under attack. 

Well, they are.

The attack is coming from within.  

Thanks for stopping by. Remember to be good to one another.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tuesday TV Touchbase: Superman & Lois, Supergirl, Batwoman, Invincible and Jeopardy


Superman and Lois reached the midway point of it's first season and is taking a bit of breather. 

Clark, Lois and sons Jordan and Jonathan are still struggling to make life work down on the farm in ol' Smallville. 

Jordan seems to be doing a bit better since he now as a friend who is also a girl (wink! wink!) and he has some small slice of dad's super powers. 

Jonathan has tried to be the good brother but the flipped dynamic is clearly bothering him. Back in Metropolis, Jonathan had a girlfriend, he had a top spot on the football team and he was popular. In Smallville, the girlfriend has dumped him by phone and he's playing 2nd fiddle to Jordan on the football team. He's hanging out with a bad crowd that has led to Jonathan getting drunk so that's not a good look for him. 

Clark is trying to be a better father to his sons but the world won't stop needing Superman to save it. And there's whatever the mysterious super powered armored stranger is up to.

We know (but Clark doesn't yet) that this is a Lex Luthor from another Earth where Superman is a bad guy and Luthor was in love with Lois Lane. Out of the armor, our alternate Luthor has made contact with Lois, in the guise of a fellow journalist who ostensibly wants to help her with her Morgan Edge story.

You can take the woman out of the big city but that doesn't mean she leaves behind her big city reporter's instincts and Lois is hard on the trail of whatever fuckery Morgan Edge is up to in Smallville. Smallville, a hungry and desperate town, is all in to give Edge whatever he wants in exchange for jobs and investment. But Edge is up to no good.

Edge is mining for radioactive rocks that give people super powers. Out of control, very destructive powers as we've witnessed the sad end of a couple of Edge's powered up lackeys.  

Superman and Lois has stepped aside for a few weeks so Supergirl can finally return. The first episode of the series required a lot of remembering of a lot of details from the last new episode from a year ago.  The episode was clearly meant not to be a season premier but the previous season's finale, a finale delayed due to lockdowns in place for the coranvirus.  

Lex Luthor is going to mind control most of the world to love him and those that are not under his control will be killed. J'Onn and M'Gann shut down Luthor's satellite network by... thinking real hard, I guess? Supergirl throws down with Lex Luthor which is a bit of a miss match as Lex can shoot kryptonite rays at her.  

Luther's schemes are upended and that British dude whose name I can't remember writes up an expose for Catco that blows open the whole sordid scheme but somehow, Supergirl winds up zapped into the Phantom Zone and oh no! We'll have to wait all summer... no, we'll find out next week how that turns out. 

Major impact of Supergirl in the Phantom Zone? She no longer has bangs. How does being in the Phantom Zone change Kara's hair? 

The Phantom Zone is filled with Dementor rejects and Supergirl is all alone except for her father Zor-El who may or may not be who he says he is. (Andrea and I are assuming he's not.) 

Out in the real world, Kara's super friends have sought out a gay alien vampire (from the planet Transelvane, no less) named Silas. Silas can turn into a bat by shouting "Bat!" (A nice shout out to What We Do In the Shadows.) He also has experience with getting in and out of the Phantom Zone.  The first attempt to breach the Phantom Zone doesn't go so well as the Dementor rejects burst through a portal to ravage Earth.  Thanks to Dreamer doing....  whatever it is she does (seriously, what exactly is that wonky energy she shoots out of her fingers anyway?), the raging wraiths of the Phantom Zone get pushed back and the portal is shut. They will just have to try another day but everyone is on edge and testy about not being able to save Supergirl. 

And also on edge and testy about whatever shit Lex Luthor is up to.

Lex Luthor is on trial for murder, crimes against humanity and littering. Acting as his own lawyer, Lex discredits Eve Tessmacher and Lena Luthor and finishes off with an impassioned speech that he's just a dude trying to do good in the world and is the target of vengeful women. 

And it works. Even Lex Luthor is surprised! 

By the way, Andrea and I are still catching up on Batwoman and we're both glad we decided to give this show a 2nd chance. Ryan Wilder is such a great character and it's been a lot of fun watching her grow into the role of Batwoman.  

Another super hero TV show debuted recently, Invincible based on the comic book by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker and Ryan Ottely.  The Invincible comic book series is at once an old school throwback to classic comic book tropes and a serious upending of those tropes in a brutal and devastating manner. 

And the TV show follows that pattern. 

The majority of the first episode tracks a typical coming of age story. Mark Grayson's father Nolan is really Omni-Man, a Superman expy and Mark has finally begun displaying the powers he inherited from his father. We get a nice, warm half hour of Mark spending some father-son bonding time as he learns more about the use of his power and creates the super hero persona of Invincible.

But then...

The last act of the episode follows Omni-Man to the HQ of the Guardians of the Globe, an expy of the Justice League. And Omni-Man murders them. 

No clean bursts of heat vision and poof, a super hero turns to ash. 

Yes, there is a lot of blood. A seriously large amount of blood as Omni-Man shatters skulls and punches holes in chests. 

It is a sudden and violent betrayal that upends everything we knew about Omni-Man, 

It also announces to the audience to check your expectations at the door. This is a series that will zip when you think it will zag. 

If Spider-Man was handled the same way as Invincible, Aunt May would've been dead years ago. 

The look of the animation perfectly captures the clean bold lines of the comic book art by Walker and Ottely but make no mistake, this is no kid's show. 

People will say "fuck". 

Before I wrap up this post, I gotta say a word about Jeopardy.  Aaron Rodgers is friendly and affable as the guest host but he is a bit too quiet in his delivery. He has a soft warm voice that calls to mind Bob Ross painting videos. 

Aaron is the only guest host so far to indicate he wouldn't mind having the gig on the regular but I'm just not seeing it. 

OK, that is that for this week's Tuesday TV Touchbase. 

Until next time, remember to be good to one another and try to keep it down, will ya? I'm trying to watch TV over here.    

Is There No Other Game In Town?

There are some fast food places in our area that no matter what time of day you go, there is always a line. Chik-Fil-A is always busy. And i...