June 13-21, 2015

Ugh, another long gap. Part of that time was spent migrating from tumblr to WordPress, but that’s not really a reasonable excuse.

Let’s see: Last Saturday . . . was kinda just a chore day. The only entertainment of note was going to Gocciolina for their 1-year anniversary party/cookout thing. Which was fun, but not as much fun as actually having dinner at Gocciolina. One of these days we’ll learn how to plan dinner more than 30 minutes in advance, and then we’ll be able to eat there again.

We finally dug into Inside Amy Schumer — jumped right in with Season Three, under the assumption that the magazine articles & whatnot are correct & that the latest season is the best. (And, having finished 3 & moved backwards into 2, I think that was a reasonable assumption.)

It’s uneven — any show of its kind probably would be — but the sheer brilliance of 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer should earn it some kind of permanent spot in the TV Comedy Hall of Fame. It’s utter genius. If you’re reading this & haven’t seen it, you can rent the episode for a couple of bucks on Amazon. Do it.

Or maybe watch 12 Angry Men and *then* do it.

I’m still working on reading Cadillac Desert. I paused it this week to take another stab at The Martian, which I had put down earlier because, honestly, it’s not that well-written. But last week I read this XKCD:

I have never seen a work of fiction so perfectly capture the out-of-nowhere shock of discovering that you've just bricked something important because you didn't pay enough attention to a loose wire.

Which is awesome, so I decided to give it another chance.

It’s close to exactly what that comic describes. The character development is so-so, some of the writing is kinda meh, but boy there’s a lot of carefully written narrative about engineering oneself out of an endless series of jams.

Anyway, life-wise, the week has been quiet — reading, surfing the web, etc. Being appalled at the news. The usual stuff. During the summer I’m in front of my computer less during the workday, which means I fall way behind on Twitter, far enough behind that I don’t even scroll back to try to catch up. It feels kinda weird.

Last night we drove down to Jordan Lake to look at stars through some moderately large telescopes, under the aegis of UNC’s Morehead Planetarium. It was cloudy earlier in the day, so much so that I was kind of gently agitating not to go, but M persisted and by the time we got down there, there were big patches of open sky.

So we stood in line for 15-20 minutes to look at Saturn through an ~8 inch telescope. It looked more or less just like this:

I try not to be a jaded 21st-century dude, and yeah, the awareness that the light hitting my eye had bounced off Saturn was cool. But still, come on. I have been totally spoiled by The Internet. Sigh.


June 13-21, 2015

June 5 – 9, 2015

Friday night we struggled with our Amazon Instant Video watchlist for the standard amount of time, and then wound up watching Kick-Ass, which we had never seen. It was OK. For reasons that I cannot begin to explain, we’d narrowed it down to that or the first Pitch Perfect

Hey, tiny Chloë Grace Moretz cussing like a sailor is a funny joke. As a movie it kind of struggles & ultimately limps across the finish line, but all of Nick Cage’s & CGM’s scenes, together or separate, are golden.

Saturday afternoon we went to the Carolina & saw Love & Mercy, which was utterly brilliant. It’s a somewhat unconventional biography of Brian Wilson – unconventional in that Brian in his 20s is played by Paul Dano, but Brian in his 40s/50s is played by John Cusack. Unconventional in that it essentially unapologetically skips the 70s and most of the 80s, and leaps back & forth in time a lot.

It’s not straight biography by any means – it essentially stops shortly after “Good Vibrations” and doesn’t pick up again until Brian meets Melinda Ledbetter sometime in the late 80s. But it does a remarkable job of capturing the chaos that Brian’s mental state was apparently in during the period of his great musical breakthroughs of the mid-60s, and the utterly oppressive nature of his relationship with Gene Landy in the late 80s.

And the extensive set pieces involving the writing & recording of Pet Sounds are just amazing. They went out of their way to cast the Wrecking Crew at least semi-accurately, and called out many of them by name, although Carol Kaye only gets one line, and Hal Blaine a few more. 

In fact, you’ll want to see the Wrecking Crew documentary, either before or after you see Love & Mercy. 

Having Paul Dano play young Brian, and John Cusack play old Brian, is obviously a huge gimmick – and yet it works, remarkably well. Paul is the spitting image of young Brian, and while it takes a little longer to get used to John Cusack, what you come to realize is that Cusack has completely nailed older Brian’s vocal tics & weird mannerisms. This might only make sense if you’ve seen a reasonable amount of interview & performance footage of Brian from the 90s onward, I guess.

Anyway. Well worth a trip to the theatre, if you care at all about music.

Saturday night we went on a canoeing excursion on Jordan Lake with Frog Hollow Outdoors, one of the Paddle Under the Stars trips they do with the Morehead Planetarium. It was lovely – few clouds, perfect temperature. Not too many speedboats blaring metalcore nearby.

We drove up to the boat ramp & parked & got out & discovered that the Morehead Planetarium education coordinator who was leading the trip was a woman I went to college with, at Rice University in Houston. She & I have actually run into each other off & on around town for years, but I never knew she was an astronomer, or astronomy educator, or whatever her title actually is.

I think she & I are the only members of our college class currently in the Triangle. There are more of my high school friends here – but then I went to high school just ~300 miles away from here, not ~1200.

Monday night we went to a Bulls game. It was nearly perfect – the stands were only maybe 1/3 full, so the murmur of nearby conversations wasn’t insanely distracting. The Bulls had an excellent game – they allowed 4 runs to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, but wound up stomping them 11-4. The actual game was less lopsided than the score would suggest – most of the damage was done in just a couple of innings.

The only real flaw was that the notorious raspy-voiced peanut vendor, who has become an unlikely celebrity at the ballpark, was there – ON HIS DAY OFF. And between innings he kept getting up & doing stuff to call attention to himself. Leading the YMCA dance but singing “Y M C Peanuts.” It was kind of sad, in a small way.

I mean, it’s great that he’s having his 15 minutes – or two seasons – of fame, but he (along with, to a lesser extent, all of the other roving vendors) drives me up the freaking wall. Walk around & sell peanuts & beer. Sure. Maybe even yell out what you’re selling every so often. But nowadays there are so many vendors, and they’re so aggressive, that it’s actually hard to focus on the game.

On Mondays, though, fewer fans mean fewer vendors. One step closer to my dream of a “throwback Mondays” thing, where they turn all the LED displays & whatnot off, and the only music they play is live organ. Some parks do this already, but just once a season. The Bulls don’t even do that, but I can dream.

June 5 – 9, 2015