Category Archives: pop culture

Fran & Joel Back Out + Other Stuff

I’m just wanting to get a post out with some assorted pictures and neat stuff I’d noticed before the weekend begins in earnest, as I’m sure it’ll be fun to recount the stuff from Fran & Joel’s visit out.   But first, we had dinner with them last night:

They flew in from Phoenix yesterday after attending the same conference they went to last year, which was when we met up with them in Vegas.  It was nice to take them to one of the many neat restaurants here in Glendale, this time Bacari.

On Monday, Larry & I went out on a school night to see a show at the Largo – this was where we had previously seen “How Did This Get Made?” last year; this time the show was “Hanging with Paul Scheer” and it was hilarious and the guests were Nicole Byer – who is hilarious and who I first fell in love with from her appearance on “Gay of Thrones” below:

Bye, Bitch!!!!    ALSO, Maria Bamford and Fred Armisen were guests, so yeah, it was hilarious.  I ended up taking the bus from DTLA as I was downtown that day, and while waiting, I took some downtown pics:

The previous weekend, we finally got to hang with Rekha and belatedly celebrate birthday fun with her.  Nicki chose a cool place, Cafe Stella, down in Silver Lake on the Sunset section.  Very trendy bar and restaurant with many attractive people everywhere.  Ah, hip Los Angeles.  Larry & I bailed after the restaurant but we heard the fun certainly continued through the rest of the day/night!

And then the weekend before that, I dragged Larry to go out and see The Last Jedi ONE MORE TIME.  It was my fourth time, his third.    We went to the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood and while it was an experience, the presentation of the movie at Universal was way better.   But there was a fun organist playing tunes before the show and a cheesy laser show too!  And a cool costume display from the movie that we visited.  Anyway, the movie still rocks and I can’t wait to see it again…on Blu Ray.

We also did go and see Phantom Thread this past weekend…I’ll give the movie that it was beautiful and well-directed, but this was a movie that I was okay with until the last 10 minutes, and then I was done with it.  What a waste of time.  I hope it loses in every Oscar category it was nominated in.

In totally unrelated stuff, Rebels Season 4 comes back soon, and if you love Star Wars, this animated series is a must watch.  The final half of the last season is airing and by the looks of this preview, a whole lot of stuff is gonna happen – and the Emperor makes an appearance!!!!:

I also saw this in one of my favorite sites – These timelapses of Seattle are pretty mesmerizing especially to see how quickly the city is building up:

 

And that leaves us to where we are now.   I’ve failed on my Amazing Race updates, but I’m still watching as it’s amazing.   And the cast of Celebrity Big Brother was announced…and it’s gonna be hard for me to choose to watch with Omarosa on it.  Seriously, wtf.

Amazing Race 30 – 2 Head 2 Furious

Maybe delayed, but I’m still posting, dammit!  This latest leg on Amazing Race was fairly brutal, as the introduction of a new challenge type, Head to Head, guaranteed a dramatic finish.  And boy oh boy, did we get some drama.  I’ve not really had a reason to complain about the previous 29 seasons and how if you got to the Pit Stop last, after having had conquered a Roadblock, Detour, and other challenges, you’d have to confront the fact that your poor performance is leading to your likely elimination.  The Head to Head challenge acted as a gate before the Pit Stop – which is a glorious save for a team that is trailing the group.   Is it entirely fair?  I’m not so sure I think it is, but that chance to stay in the game is somewhat sporting.  Anyway, I don’t hate the new challenge, and I look forward to if it continues to show up and how often.  Is this like a U-Turn where it is an occasional thing, or will it be on every leg?   So many questions!

Amazing Race 30 – Leg 2:  Reykjavik, Iceland to Antwerp, Belgium

We left Iceland and again there was no competition about getting a better flight.   Making it so easy for these teams nowadays!  In my day, you had to spread misinformation and plead with ticketing agents to not issue tickets to others, dammit!  Anyway, everyone gets to Antwerp via Amsterdam, and taking an early lead are Cedric & Shaun, massively casting off their Leg 1 standings, and getting to the Roadblock first:

Roadblock:  Climb a Long-ass Ladder up to a Clue Hanging from a Crane

Oof.  I don’t know how well I would have done on that challenge.  The nervousness from climbing those heights on a rickety rope ladder as well as the physical fatigue is pretty harsh.  It does seem everyone managed it fairly well though, so maybe the support rope acted as a belay and helped pull you up too.

Once a team finished the Roadblock, they got their Detour clue with the choice being Diamonds or Fonts:

Detour:  Diamonds

I was kind of surprised that this was a challenge.   Not only are the teams handling actual diamonds worth tens of thousands of dollars, they also have to do MATH.  A calculator was blessedly provided as otherwise, I’ve no doubt some of the teams would still be there.  And based on the performance of some who chose this, even the calculator wasn’t that much help, as they had to pay attention to clarity and with all the fingerprints they left on the stones, it was throwing them off.

Detour: Fonts

This Detour option also required paying attention to detail, but the detail was to make sure you understood one major detail in that the type was reversed and upside down.  And if you were clever like some and used the shadows from the window, you could rip right through this.  Alas, some of the teams got massively hung up on this.  The Twin Firefighters were the key examples of this – they started on Fonts and could NOT figure it out, eventually switching to the Diamonds challenge.   That switch led them to be the last team in the standings…but fret not, Head to Head is here!

The First Head to Head

In this first instance of Head to Head, the first two teams to arrive would compete against each other in an obstacle course that required you to dress up as Belgian Fries and schlep a dolly of frozen fries around it.  Whoever wins that match wins the Leg!  The loser has to then race the next team to arrive, and so on.  The last race will be between whoever has just lost a match and that last team to arrive.  And if that last team can manage to win the match, voila, they stay in!

Cody & Jessica managed to arrive second after Cedric & Shaun, but Cody destroyed and got Team Big Brother their first (of many?) wins.  So as the teams kept rolling in, the major story of Head to Head was the awful feeling everyone had while watching Henry & Evan roll in around fourth…but then get utterly destroyed in the competition for like 7 straight competitions.  It was brutal to watch.  They were exhausted.  They got lucky, if you can call it that, by finally getting to race against a not so great team, the Goat Yoga ladies.  Exhausted and with plenty of experience under their belt by now, Henry felt got a win.  But it was very very close.  In the end, the Goat Yoga ladies didn’t have enough legs to figure it out as the Firefighters showed up last and due to pure strength, were able to power their way past Goat Yoga.

I’m of the mind that I understand this is a competition show, and if a new tweak is added, then you have to play and win.  The Firefighters won their way to stay, but their abysmal performance this leg definitely earned them an elimination.  Their elimination is likely coming soon as it doesn’t seem they’re a strong team yet.  And Goat Yoga was falling apart from Leg 1, so their elimination here isn’t a travesty by any means.  I guess I’m saying, a last place team always has a chance now…and I’m not sure I like that.

The Current Standings:

Kylie!

I saw this news today about Kylie Minogue releasing a new album, Golden, this year, which got me to thinking about how much I love her music.  That love affair started back in 2001 when I first heard the truly amazing song, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”:

I was instantly hooked.  The video makes the song even more compelling.  The song is still incredibly catchy and danceable, and no big shock, it was in my mind a centerpiece of our reception’s playlist.  The dance floor was on fire with everyone going through the tunnel to this song.

Anyway, Kylie’s entire album Fever is a banger, and even with it being 17 (!!!!) years old doesn’t sound out of place nowadays.

Kylie has a lot of great songs, with some notable ones shown below.

“Come Into My World” is mesmerizing and was directed by Michel Gondry.   The song of course is rhythmic and beautiful, but what is done with that in video is just magical:

“Love at First Sight” was one that me and Jason Rubi definitely jammed to that summer of 2001 in the Azores.  Kylie is inextricably linked to the Azores for me in my memories, but I’m glad she’s continued to keep making fun, danceable music.

And she was the Green Fairy in Moulin Rouge!, so you know that means basically she’s grandfathered in, regardless.

Some “The Last Jedi” Love

I’ve seen The Last Jedi three times, and I think it’s possible that Larry is up for seeing it once again.  I ended up seeing it the third time on my own while Larry was at work during the Christmas/New Years week, and regardless I’m up for a fourth time.  You see, I loved the movie.  I do like to write, but I know I’m not very good at critical analysis writing, and instead, I’d like to provide some great writing that gets at what I did like about the movie:

I’ve shared this just a few posts ago, but I love Jenny Nicholson’s take on the backlash of the movie:

Luke Skywalker Isn’t Supposed to Be “Nice”

Here’s a Twitter feed that I thought was particularly apt in its discussion of how Luke was never going to be the “idealistic farmboy” from the original trilogy – you may need to click on the date/time link within to see the entire Twitter thread:

The article here discusses things that could be “problems” about the movie but really aren’t all that much:

https://tay.kinja.com/four-problems-with-the-last-jedi-from-someone-who-thou-1821630144

For me, I had some quibbles with certain scenes, but certainly not enough to make me hate the movie and declare Star Wars over:

  • Leia Poppins:  it’s a slightly jarring scene, but in that universe, I’m not at all of the mind that it’s impossible; after all, she IS the twin sister of the most powerful Jedi still alive and the daughter of possibly the most powerful Force user in history.
  • Holdo not telling Poe the plan:  As someone who was in the military, yeah, leadership does not always tell the plan to everyone.  ESPECIALLY if that one individual, as hot as he may be and my man Oscar Isaac is certainly hawwwt, just went and played hero, got the entire bomb squadron eliminated, and recently demoted.
  • The whole Luke thing:  I completely disagree with those who say Luke wouldn’t act the way he did in The Last Jedi.   And the articles above articulate it way better than me.

I loved the movie and loved that it basically wrapped up a lot of the “mystery boxes” from The Force Awakens.  Episode IX has the freedom to do something exciting and new, and doesn’t have to be a Return of the Jedi of this trilogy, and that’s amazing.  Who knows where it’s going to go next?  I love that unknown.

Some Movies, Some Golden Globes

The Golden Globes event is bought and paid for and really doesn’t reflect any kind of peer reflection on a category – it’s mostly about the HFPA deciding who they’d most like to give awards to.  Having said that it is a fun ceremony to watch and quite a bit more laid back than the Oscars.  Seth Meyers did a great job as emcee but it amuses me to see how he (and others as host) effectively disappear from the show after the opening.  I seem to remember Ricky Gervais being much more present, but maybe it was a conscious choice by the producers to get the host outta there.   The choice to award so much to 3 Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri is a strange one.  For the most part, it gets very divisive reviews and especially in comparison to others in its category, just doesn’t seem like the best movie.  I was bummed that Kyle MacLachlan didn’t win for Twin Peaks: The Return but it’s not surprising… and again, his win or loss really isn’t a knock on him.  It’s on whether the HFPA liked him.  One thing I did really like is Oprah’s Opening Bid for the 2020 Presidency.  Guess we’ll have to stay tuned on that, eh?

This weekend, Larry & I saw a couple movies that were pretty great.   Yesterday, we saw:

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

It’s a movie from a few years back and we watched it on Amazon’s service, and holy hell, it’s amazing.   It’s directed by Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords as well as Taiki Waititi, who made the most recent ThorThor: Ragnarok.   With that background just know that yes, this movie is hilarious but also does a great job of treating the subject matter fairly…with that subject matter being real vampires, werewolves, and others.  Set in current times and taking place in New Zealand, the movie is staged like a documentary that follows around 4 vampires who’ve lived together a LONG time.  Typical annoyances crop up (do the dishes, Deacon!) and then an attempted “feeding” goes a bit awry and suddenly there’s no longer 4 vampires.  Plus, there’s now the human friend, Stu, that hangs around and helps them learn about selfies and the Internet.  It’s great, and then all of a sudden there’s footage of a feeding and it’s like holy shit, this movie can get dark and scary.  Basically, we loved it and we are next off to catch the other Taiki movie, Hunt For the Wilderpeople.

The other movie we went out and saw shortly before the Golden Globes aired today:

The Post (2017)

Spielberg.  Streep.  Hanks.  Pretty awesome collection of talent and damn, they hit it out of the park in this movie.   It takes place during the early 1970s as Vietnam drags on and Daniel Ellsberg gets his hands on a study (the Pentagon Papers) commissioned by Robert McNamara which effectively shows that the U.S. has known that the Vietnam War couldn’t be won.  And yet, we persisted.  The New York Times gets access to the Papers first but after printing a first bombshell article about it, they get slammed with a judicial mandate to stop publishing classified information.  Which they acquiesce to.  So the source goes to the Washington Post and it’s within this sequence of events that the movie is mostly focused on.  The amazing performances by Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post, and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, the editor at the paper, ensure that the movie is riveting.  The situation certainly can correlate to the current “fake news” onslaught against the media by those on the right wing and that even if the President is threatening you, it’s up to institutions like the NYT or the WP to fully embrace those First Amendment rights and publish the truth.   It’s also quite a ride to see Graham’s evolution into someone who completely decides to inhabit the role she has and not be cowed even if she’s “just” a woman in this world.  Quite a movie, and it amusingly leads right up into the Watergate break-in, so if you have some time, you can watch this and then put on All the President’s Men right after this.