Downbelow Station – observations on CJ Cherryh’s work

I have been a life-long, avid consumer of Science Fiction. The bug really took root when I was in high school, and I was bitten hard. Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert, and other titans of the genre were my apetite and I voraciously devoured them all.

There were some authors that I attempted to get into, but at the time, and for many years after, I struggled to appreciate. One was John Brunner, whose Hugo Award winning “Stand on Zanzibar” is an example. It took no fewer than 4 attempts to get past the first 40 or so pages, the type and style of telling of the story just failed to grab my attention. But then I did read past that, fell in love with the style, and it remains one of my favorite novels of all time, one I reread fairly frequently. Continue reading →

Valerian movie review

Last year, one movie that I really wanted to see was Valerian (full title: “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”), a film by Luc Besson, who made one of my go-to SciFi movies, “The Fifth Element”. Known for making movies that are visually stunning, blending humor and action, and a penchant for strong female characters, I thought this couldn’t go wrong.

Alas, I didn’t make it to the theaters to see it, and I kept checking for it on Netflix and Hulu, without any satisfaction. Then when I got a spot bonus at work with Amazon gift cards, I went to it on their site, and instead of dropping it into my shopping cart, I noticed that it was available as part of my Prime membership. Cool. Continue reading →

Netflix Originals

Bagging on netflix is becoming a recurring theme, but alas, I need to circle back.

When Netflix streaming began to take off, it was pretty much the only game in town. At the time, the catalog was far from complete, but Netflix got in at the ground floor, and all the content owners pretty much granted access to their catalog. Not complete access, and there were significant holes, but the selection was solid.

Then a few years ago, Netflix began radically changing their focus. As competitors rose (Amazon, Hulu, Apple,) Netflix was competing for content, and not winning the fight. Instead of having a dwindling catalog, and having to bid against the rising competition, they pivoted to funding the creation of content. The concept of “Netflix Originals” (N-O) made an appearance, and now the catalog is flooded with Netflix Originals. To the point of crowding out the outside content.

Some of the N-O’s are good. I enjoyed “Narcos”, “Dirty Money” and a few others. However, I have found that the vast bulk of the N-O titles, hmmm – how to put this suck.

  • Stranger Things – sucked. I gave this three episodes, and it was awful.
  • River – A British police procedural, the key protagonist being someone from one of the Nordic countries (Sweden? Norway?) who lost his partner in a drug bust, and sees her every day (the vision) and interacts with her. Seriously, he should be in an institution, but nobody call him on his bizarre behavior.
  • OITNB – I will probably get some hate for this, but I really really hated this. Ok, hate is too strong of a term. But seriously, I forced myself to give it 4 episodes. I had to force myself.
  • The Killing – this is one that I thought was good. The first three seasons were amazing. I thought for certain that this was one of the exceptions. Then I dove into season 4. Shite. Basura. Gar-bage. Turns out that it was an AMC property for the first three seasons, and then Netflix bought the rights, and put together the 4th, abysmal episode. Yep, Netflix took something that was excellent, and turned it into a turd sandwich.
  • Bojack Horseman – I love adult oriented cartoons, South Park, Archer, Rick & Morty, so I should have loved Bojack Horseman. I didn’t. I gave this a whole season. More meh.

I am sure there are many that I am missing, and probably there are some good N-O shows. But, to me, the Netflix Original logo is 2 strikes against a show.

And today, March 14, Archer disappeared from Netflix. Fuckers.

Thus, I am spending more of my time on Hulu these days.

Funnies: AT&T Customer Support Memo

More Funnies. Not sure where I harvested this, but every time I re-discover it, I get more than a couple chuckles, and remember to share it with a friend.

Now I am sharing it with you.

AT&T Customer Service Memorandum

Please stop submitting compliants. This is our system. We
designed it, we built it, and we use it more than you do. If there
are some features you think might be missing, if the system isn’t as
effective as you think it could be, TOUGH! Give it back, we don’t
need you. See figure 1. Continue reading →

Funnies: Lucas Electronics

I grew up in a weird time. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale and San Jose), I was at the epicenter of the rise of tech. But also, I was a car and motorcycle guy.

As such, I was exposed to some oddities and interesting troubleshooting of electrics of various mobiles. One pleasure I never had was owning anything with Lucas electronics, for my auto shop friends in high school would tell hair curling stories. Continue reading →

Review: Forensic Files

One day, a long time ago, I began watching Forensic Files on Netflix. It started as a way to kill time, something in the background, but since it had 9 “collections” of up to 70 episodes each, it took quite a while to get through it.

The premise is each episode is a crime (usually murder, but not always), and how forensic and scientific evidence helped capture the guilty parties, sometimes after years of the case going cold. Continue reading →

Music Appreciation: Yngwie Malmsteen

I was on the train home, after a truly grueling week at work, and I just got the urge to listen to some vintage Malmsteen. Thinking back to his time before he broke out, I picked up my iPhone, opened the Spotify app, and searched for Alcatrazz, the band he played in with Graham Bonnett before he broke out. I had a specific album in mind, “Live Sentence”, a live (duh) recording from 1983 or 1984 in Tokyo. Continue reading →

Hand Dryers – The Dyson Airblade

An embarrassingly long time ago, I had my first encounter with a Dyson Airblade hand dryer. I don’t remember when, or where, but I do recall it being the only touchless, air dryer that actually friggin’ worked to get my hands dry.

The amazing Dyson AirbladInsert your hands past your wrists, and slowly withdraw, and BAM, your hands were dry. As dry or even drier than using 3 paper towels. Awesome.

Fast forward to today, and obviously, the patent has expired, because at every public bathroom on my recent trip overseas was a similar hand dryer. I was thinking to myself how cool this was that it had become mainstream.

Then I used one. First in the public bathroom in the Frankfurt airport. Wash my hands, and insert them into the faux-Airblade, and … Continue reading →

Line of Duty

I have been on a tear, watching British television shows, and especially their police procedurals. It began with Hinterland, then expanded into Broadchurch, and Wallander. All very enjoyable, all top quality. While searching for something in the same vein, Barbara found a recommendation for “Line of Duty“, and while it isn’t on Netflix, it was on Hulu.

Unlike the other police procedurals, this one has a twist. It focuses on a group that is charged with investigating and ferreting out corrupt practice in the police agencies. The group is AC-12, or Anticorruption unit 12. Continue reading →

Recipes and Inaccuracies

I enjoy cooking. Always have, heck, I worked my way through college in a commercial kitchen as a chef. So, when I get a hankering for something, I just cook it. Either learn to cook it, or just dive in.

A few weeks ago, my sister was visiting, and I decided to make a Dutch Baby, and I found this recipe on the Epicurious web page.

The recipe is simple, the ingredients aren’t esoteric, and I had an appropriate cast-iron pan to make it. Continue reading →