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Showing posts from 2020

He Should Be Here

I've been trying to write this every year for the past ten years. There are some things you just can't put into words, which for someone who writes so damn much is kind of maddening. I'm not a big 'writing is therapy' kind of a guy- some people are all about that, but it's true: writing is therapy. Getting the words down on the page helps. For this, I've just never been able to do it.

So, two quotes:

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

Hemingway is not my jam. There was always that period of time in college where you knew somebody that was obsessed with either Hemingway, Kerouac or Charles Bukowski. I was never one of those people. But this quote. Man, for this one- he gets it right.

"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

Christ, I hate this quote. The language is so cold, clinical and detached. It's not wrong, of course- it's absolutely correct, but it doesn'…

Squawk Box: Undone/The Mandalorian

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Squawk Box returns for February with a two-fer: Undone from Amazon Prime and of course, The Mandalorian from Disney Plus.

Undone caught my eye mainly for the animation-- made using rotoscoping, it looks absolutely gorgeous so I wanted to check it out. What I found wasn't just beautiful animation, but a tightly focused eight episode first season which explores the nature of reality. When Alma (Rosa Salazar) gets into a car crash, she discovers that she can navigate through time using the power of her mind. Her father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk) appears to here and offers to teach her how to harnass this power to investigate his murder, reset the timeline and hopefully bring him back to life. Alma agrees and the two of them begin a reality warping journey through the moments of Alma's life trying to piece together what happened to her father back then and uncover the meaning of some family history and some secrets along the way.

In the meantime, the other people in Alma's life- ra…

Boozehound Unfiltered: Glen Moray

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Boozehound Unfiltered is back for 2020!
So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of the Glen Moray 12-Year-Old Single Malt, I suppose I should digress a little and explain what I'm going to do going forward with this feature. A couple of birthdays ago, the Missus got me a set of Tiki Glasses. She then followed that up with Smuggler's Cove an excellent bible on all things Tiki (if perhaps slightly unhelpful for beginners in the Tiki Life). I've sort of decided to mitosis this feature up. Going forward, you should expect to see some Tiki-specific posts, some cocktail related posts and some straight-up reviews of bottles of whiskey and other goodies I pick up along the way.

As part of my general and annual New Year's Goal for better health, I'm going to be cutting back on my alcohol consumption as well. I used to be pretty good about only having a wee dram or a cocktail on my days off. That has turned into damn near a nightly thing, which isn't bad, per say- but it…

The Caucuses Weren't A Disaster They Just Played One On TV

Hey, here's a secret for all y'all...  the Iowa Caucuses actually went pretty well. Reporting the results is where it all went sideways. I wasn't particularly impressed by the State Party's Response and I was even less impressed with the DNC's response to all of this.

The Missus and I came out to caucus in Iowa City's 17th Precinct. 800 people showed up to caucus, so getting us all in there was something of a logisitical nightmare, but once things got going, they went pretty well and by 10pm, we were all done and dusted. Sanders and Warren cleared the first two rounds comfortably and we rallied enough Biden folks on the 2nd Alignment that we got Amy Klobuchar to viability by the end of the night.

Apart from being cornered by a Yang Ganger for a sales pitch (they had a decent contingent of people-- more than I expected to be honest) the experience was overall good. For all you can say about different ways of voting, caucuses do have their drawbacks, but I got to…

Netflix & Chill #73: Some Like It Hot

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Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 1959 Starring: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe Directed By: Billy Wilder Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer 95%, Audience Score 94% Pick: Mine

So I was searching for inspiration yesterday at work and tripped and fell down a rabbit hole of articles listing the 100 Best Movies on Netflix, then Amazon Prime and finally Hulu. And, on a whim- having decided that Aguirre, The Wrath of God would be a little too heavy for a Saturday afternoon, I went with another cinema classic: Some Like It Hot.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge cinema buff. I watch movies and over the years I've found 'classics' that just blow me away and that I currently own, somewhere. (Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion In Winter- Gandhi, if you want to count that one.) But when faced with a choice of ingesting the classics or watching whatever I feel like, I'm usually one to follow my Id and just watch what I feel like. Why then this sudden turn to classic …

This Week In Vexillology #301

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Well, guess what? We've finally reached the end of our Lost Archives. It's taken us I don't know how long to get here, but we're down to the last official entry and a bonus one I stumbled across and thought would be a good idea.

Our first offering, comes to us courtesy of the Scottish Independence Referendum-- the prospect of Scotland leaving- and this was well before Brexit and the mess that followed- raised the interesting question: what was going to become of the Union Jack without Scotland? This 2014 article from the Atlantic floated several possible designs and these three were my favorite:

First, giving Wales some love. Wales is the only Constituent country of the United Kingdom not to be represented on the Union Jack. It's kind of hard to sneak a dragon in there, but as it turns out there are some pretty decent opportunities to get Wales in there. There's this one:
I kind of dig this one for it's simplicity. You're changing out blue and replacing…

Free Write Friday #17: Music/Depth

Free Write Friday is back with another double shot of #ThemeThursdays-- featuring last week's offering, 'Music' and this week's offering of 'Depth.'  Enjoy!
Music

The sound of music brought Chelsea back to consciousness. Opera again. She tried to sit up, but realized that they had strapped her to the gurney again. He was there. He had never mentioned a name, but in her head, she had started to call him Needles. He looked like a corpse, tall and rail thin with sunken cheeks and sallow eyes.
"Oh good," he said. "You're awake."
Chelsea said nothing. She was starting to lose track of the time. Her mind was getting foggy now. Sometimes the lights were on constantly, driving her mad, crackling and sizzling constantly above her head. Sometimes they turned the lights off and she was plunged into inky blackness. She had no idea where she was. She had no idea what day it was or how long she had been there. The last thing she remembered was the door…

Impeachment: Where The Points Are All Made Up and The Facts Don't Matter

I'll be honest: I didn't bother paying any attention whatsoever to the Impeachment mess because at the end of the day, I knew it wasn't going to matter and the outcome was more or less foreordained.

And hey- look! I was right.

In an election year, politicians are motivated by one thing and one thing only: keeping their jobs. Now, granted, in the case of the Senate, only a third of them are up for re-election this year, but voters tend to remember these things and in these days of partisan hysteria that we live in, if voters forget, some helpful political action committee is going to come along and remind them again when the time comes. It's not a bad motivation, keeping your job. You, I and the rest of America are probably motivated to keep our jobs, whatever they are. But when you take that and combine it with the current levels of partisan hysteria that keep the internet smoldering like a massive dystopian tire, of course the politicians are going to play their parts…

Bookshot #127: The Steel Bonnets

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It's been gathering dust on my bookshelf for years, but finally, I sat down and read The Steel Bonnets, which tells the story of the border reivers that dominated the border between England and Scotland for centuries- their peculiar, rough and tumble way of life reached it's peak in the 16th Century before being swept aside by the forces of political unification that united the two kingdoms when James I took the throne of a united kingdom following the death of Elizabeth I.

Why read a book about what to many would seem to be a relatively obscure subject? Well, it's sort of where my people are from. The Nixons ran along the Middle March of the border with the Armstrongs- but also mixing with the Elliots and Croziers as well. As the borders grew more wild and unruly over the centuries- the clans developed sort of a rough code that sort of governed their raids- and every cross border raid to steal horses or rustle sheep would provoke a response in one form or another. They we…

Five Days Out: Some Caucus Thoughts

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Look, if you've been following me on social media in any way, shape or form, it shouldn't come as a galloping shock to you that I'm planning on caucusing for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. I know she's the right choice for country and she'd make an excellent President. I'm not immune to the arguments about needing structural/radical change in this country, but I'm also tired of gridlock, I'm tired of Presidential candidates who promise the moon and can't deliver and I don't want four years of a Democratic President who governs with the pen, pisses everyone off and has it all undone in ten minutes or so as soon as the next Republican President is sworn in.

I want an effective legislator. Someone who is going pass laws and if they can't accomplish the big things, at least they can move the ball down the field instead of going three and out by standing up and pontificating about 'principles' or 'ideology.' Most importantly of…

Netflix & Chill #72: The Two Popes

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2019 Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce Directed By: Fernando Meirelles Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer 89%, Audience 89% Pick: Mine
You don't really think about it, but technically we do have Two Popes at the moment. Granted, Benedict is officially a 'Pope Emeritus' but he's still alive and kicking-- so it's a historical moment that we haven't seen in centuries, back when there were Papal States and the whole papacy had a lot more political authority than it does now. But nevertheless: we've got two popes kicking around out there, and this movie serves as an interesting reminder of the weirdness of it all.
It opens in 2005 when Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) is called to the Vatican to elect a new Pope following the death of Pope John Paul II. He receives the second highest vote count behind Cardinal Ratzinger (Anthony Hopkins) who is elected to the Papacy and becomes Pope Benedict. Bergoglio resigns himself to going back …

This Week In Vexillology #300: A Cedar Rapids Flag Tease

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Public voting doesn't start until April, but the Gazette yesterday gave everyone a little tease of some designs that had been submitted. I gotta say, the process seems a little convuluted: 218 design submissions so far (and why the Gazette didn't post all of them, I don't know- but they really should at some point!) and a group of professional graphic designers with a few members of the North American Vexillological Association are going to pull out common themes from their 218 designs for common themes and some how boil it all down to four final options for public voting.

Obviously, until we see the Final Four options, you can't really pass judgement-- but there are some interesting designs in this tease that are worth looking at I think. Here's what stood out for me. This one:

The 'graph that describes this one reads thusly: "Midnight navy combines with a vibrant deep sky blue to depict the contunal motion of the Cedar River, a pivotal landmark that makes…

Free Write Friday #16: Clarity/Survival

So, I'm really loving the whole Theme Thursday thing on r/writingprompts, so I figured, why not post my take on last week's theme and this week's theme for Free Write Friday. Hope you enjoy...

Clarity

Penny gripped the steering wheel in front of her and stared at the green and white sign of the grocery store. She had been here so many times over the years that she could find theplace by memory, driving on automatic with a sense of distractedness that would be alarming to her if she cared.

This was their grocery store. It was closest to the house, an easy five minute drive, if that. The chaos of their life, raising the kids and running them around to all their activities meant that whether she meant to or not, this was where she would shop. She would run and get sushi or a whole grain artisanal pizza crust for a quick and easy dinner. When Rachel decided to be vegan for three painfully inconvenient months her sophomore year, this was the place with the food she would deign t…

All These Caucus Takes Are All (At Least Partially) Wrong

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Every four years at a certain point in the cycle, the inevitable chorus of media hot takes begins. Iowa, it's too white. Iowa, it's not diverse enough. Iowa, it's a caucus state. This year has proven to be no exception- though the takes on Twitter have reached a critical enough mass that I feel like a response is worth typing out because I'm here to tell you: Your caucus takes? They're all at least partially wrong.

Here's a shocking confession from a resident of Iowa. We don't have to go first. We are, in fact, pretty white. But, take one step back and look at the first four contests: put Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina together and not only do you have a fairly decent geographical spread of the country, but you have a pretty decent amount of diversity thrown in as well. Do these four contests together paint a fairly representative picture of the whole country? I haven't the faintest idea- but together, they're far less white than ju…

Eating Shit On Ice, Or What I Learned From Walking To Work Yesterday

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So, our saga began on Tuesday afternoon. Our white ol'reliable Subaru Outback began flashing check engine lights and doing strange things as the Missus was coming back from lunch with a friend. She gave the local mechanic we use a call and managed to get the Outback over there with no problem, but then, a few hours later, we got the call with the big ugly news.

(I should note here: we both freely admit we're terrible car owners. This experience has made us both vow to be better car owners going forward, as our tendency of 'drive the car until lights began to come on and weird, fucked up shit starts to happen' has bitten us in the ass before. We also think we can learn to be car people- and that's not really going all that well, as the sad, blue shell of our Mini Cooper can attest too.)

Upshot of the big ugly news: no car until Friday and a monetary amount that made us both grimace in pain, but was thankfully workable and should secure a major repair to keep the ca…

Netflix & Chill #71: Frozen 2

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Watched On: The Big Screen!
Released: 2019
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews, Jeremy Sisto, Ciaran Hinds, Aurora
Directed By: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck
Rotten Tomatoes: 77% Tomatometer/92% Audience Score
Pick: Family Choice!

The sequel was so inevitable they weren't just going to 'let it go'. (No, I won't apologize for the prior sentence. I know y'all groaned. Hashtag Dad Joke. Hashtag No Apologies.) But unlike prior Disney sequels as the always memorable, Return of Jafar and The Little Mermaid: Return To The Sea and Pocahantas: Death by Smallpox*, Frozen II is actually an excellent continuation of the story and a welcome return to Arandelle and all these characters.

We return to Arandelle with King Agnarr telling a story to a young Elsa and Anna about their grandfather, King Runeard, who established a treaty with the Northuldra people by build…

This Week In Vexillology #299

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Y'all.  We're almost done with The Lost Archives...  I've got one more entry planned after this and then we will officially be moving into unknown territory and then we'll have to start getting really creative with this stuff.  So, what's on deck for today? A couple of state flags from down in Brazi- Santa Catarina and Rio De Janeiro.

First up, Santa Catarina:

Located in southern Brazil, the state of Santa Catarina is almost the southernmost state in the country and to be honest, if you were trying to pick a state in Brazil to move to, Santa Catarina would probably be somewhere in your top ten or so. It's got the highest life expectancy, lowest infant mortality, lowest economic inequality and illiteracy in the whole country. It's one of the oldest states in Brazil as well and was separated from Sao Paulo all the way back in 1738. It's capital is the lovely sounding city of Florianopolis.

What about their flag? It was adopted officially in 1953, based on …