War of Heroes

May 18th, 2016

We went to see the latest Avengers movie today (okay, technically it was a Captain America movie), and by gosh those people know how to make a movie. Two hours and twenty-eight minutes of action and storytelling that gives you your money’s worth, even at today’s inflated prices.

Here’s a shopping list of the good stuff:

Jam-packed full of stars even in minor roles. You expect the stars who play the main characters, but the number of award-winners and -nominees is astounding: Alfre Woodard, Martin Freeman, William Hurt, Marisa Tomei, Hope Davis, John Slattery — I always say it’s a bad sign when a big movie skimps on the talent, and this one doesn’t.

Emily VanCamp. She’s cute as a button.

I’m also getting to like ELizabeth Olsen, who, if you don’t recognize the name, looks like a younger Rashida Jones.

Ant Man and Spiderman join the fight, and it’s a nice touch to have two eager, starry-eyed beginners battling alongside the sometimes-jaded professionals. As Falcon tells Spiderman at one point, I don’t know how many fights you’ve been in, but usually there’s not so much talking.

It was also gratifying to see the barely-in-puberty Spiderman hold off three experienced heroes all by himself.

The fight scene choreography was a star of the show all by itself. Watching Black Widow, with no weapons and no armor, take out a platoon of commandos was a joy to behold. And the fight scene in the stairwell, with Cap and Bucky taking out a team of SWAT police, was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

As my wife pointed out, the Scarlet Witch has very cool powers. In a movie full of combat-trained agents and masters of technology, her abilities are different and distinct.

Don’t think the technology isn’t great in itself, though. Falcon has a really neat drone that he uses for reconnaissance and air support, as needed.

So yes, a wonderful movie. This is why we have Hollywood.

Reputations In Jeopardy

May 17th, 2016

Power PlayersThis week is Power Players Week on Jeopardy, which is different from Celebrity Jeopardy in that the Power Players are mostly from news and politics, which is why the show strongly implies that they should be smarter, and they really should be, but they’re not.

The one person this week not from news or politics is Louis C. K. I’m not sure why he’s there, unless the designated Andy Richter for the year, the comedian brought in to make the supposed smart guys look stupid. Or maybe he’s the Kevin O’Leary, the Shark Tank star brought in to look stupid himself.

We’ll find out tomorrow.

Speaking of such things, I notice that Wolf Blitzer isn’t competing this year. I guess he got tired of getting his butt handed to him.

Tonight’s celebrities — Anderson Cooper, Lana Logan and Michael Steele — aren’t much better that O’Leary and Blitzer, but at least they all ended up above zero. Still: Shouldn’t the people who shape public policy and opinion be better informed?

Roll Up For the Mystery Tour

May 16th, 2016

A writer unfolds how he Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Magical Mystery Tour. Spoiler alert: It was on a 1200-mile road trip when he was 13.

Night Art

May 15th, 2016

This is interesting: A living, moving art installation in the night sky.

Good Guys

May 14th, 2016

This week The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus and Steven Yeun stopped to help car crash victims in Atlanta, but took off before anyone could bug them about who got killed by Negan.

It was Glenn. Or maybe Abraham — except it wasn’t. It was Glenn.

Das Band

May 13th, 2016

It’s really too bad that we didn’t have the Internet in the early 80s, or more postpunk/New Wave bands might have taken off. For instance, I’m just recently finding out about this all-girl German band named Kleenex:

No Shazam, no Facebook, no Google Translate — how did we ever listen to music back then???

There Once Was A … Eh, I Got Nothin’

May 12th, 2016

May 12th is National Limerick Day! The main reason I bring that up is because my favorite limerick that I read in Texas Monthly, many many many years ago — and had been written by a reader as an entry to the magazine’s limerick contest:

A Bostonian dining in Waco
Asked quizzically, “What’s in a ‘taco’?
In France they eat snails,
Down here, it’s ‘tamales’.
Could this Harvard man please get a steak-o?”

Amazingly, it still didn’t win the contest.

Fast Food?

May 11th, 2016

It’s all fun and games until someone dresses up like a taco and crashes into a car.

Skeeter Trouble

May 11th, 2016

MosquitoWith summer on our heels, and mosquitoes on our skin, here’s a handy trick I learned last summer: Peppermint water is an effective mosquito deterrent.

Just five drops of peppermint oil — I got mine at Sprouts — into a spray bottle with water and shake it up and spray it on. It’s natural, it’s organic, it smells good, it’s not greasy, and it’s cheap.

I was trimming tree branches last summer, swarmed by mosquitoes, but a few sprays kept them away nicely. I had to re-apply fairly often, but it still worked well.

So you’re welcome.


May 9th, 2016

If you haven’t checked out Gotham yet, you really should. It’s really starting to ramp up to fulfill its potential. With only 2 episodes left in the second season, tonight we Riddler and Catwoman (mere acquaintances until now, and not going by those villain names yet) stumble across each other in the air vents of Arkham Asylym. And Penguin begins once again, after several false starts and much adversity, to rise to power. And Bruce Wayne is still in his early teens, and pretty far from being Batman. (Oops, I should have said “spoiler alert” — Bruce Wayne is Batman!)