Everyone’s A Critic.

Dr. Strange.

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness poster

Photo from wikipedia

We watched “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” the other night. I enjoy spending time like this with the family and as I’ve enjoyed the majority of movies and other media in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I was looking forward to this. I had liked the first Dr. Strange movie quite a bit.

This one didn’t do a lot for me.

Director Sam Raimi is known for his work in the horror genre, and there were some elements from that present in this movie. I know plenty of folks that enjoy horror, but it’s not my thing at all, so that probably tainted my experience a little bit. I also wondered if I was just getting sick of The Scarlet Witch. Her storyline seemed a little one-dimensional to me. The experience felt a little flat. Many of the special effects were cool but I did see a few leaks of green screen halo around characters. I found that odd.

Maybe I’m just getting old.  I prefer my superhero movies to be a little more lighthearted. And I would think the MCU would be consistent on their “multiverse” rules from movie to movie, for example, why was there a completely different Spiderman in each multiverse, but Dr. Strange looked the same across the multiverses?

I should probably stop thinking too hard about these movies and just enjoy the popcorn.

Yep.

I have been on a work meeting, non-stop mind you, since 6:00 AM. I am writing this entry at 4:21 PM. Non-stop. Breakfast at my desk. Lunch at my desk. The meeting continues as I type this. I’ve cancelled my flight for today to accommodate.

Upload.

The pandemic has really screwed up our television habits. Back in 2020, near the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was passing the lockdown period by making bread and reviving parlor games, we were introduced to the Amazon Prime television series “Upload”. The show featured “life” in 2030, where society had figured out how to upload loved ones that have passed to a digital afterlife. This digital heaven came at a cost and showed us, in a comedic way, the class divide, even after we had passed on. Risks of being downgraded, limited bandwidth, etc., came to those that didn’t have the funds to keep their after life existence going in the digital world. Earl and I binged the series in May of 2020 and were looking forward to the next season when it was announced season two was coming along.

So, with the pandemic and all, season two was made during COVID and the production followed all the recommended health procedures. Perfect. Except, to save money or maybe because of the extra expense of the pandemic precautions, production houses are now making shorter seasons. Back in the 50s and 60s, a season could be over 30 episodes. By the 80s and 90s we were down to 22. With the streaming services were down to 10 and this latest run of “Upload” has seven episodes. “The Expanse” had six episodes in its last season. Perhaps it’s an Amazon Prime thing. Amazon doesn’t really have that much money, I guess.

So “Upload” season two followed the same storyline and season one, was clever but not as clever, and had a little bit of a meandering thing going on. I didn’t really enjoy the season as much as I remembered enjoying season one nearly two years ago. I still recommend it for the geek value, but a certain spark seemed to be missing.

If you’re looking to binge 3 1/2 hours of entertainment, go for it.so a bunch of precautions were smartly followed and

Power Couple.

Photo of Carrie Coon and Morgan Spector as Bertha and George Russell in ”The Gilded Age”.

I guess I enjoy power couples of any century. As a fan of ”Downton Abbey”, I was eager to see HBO’s ”The Gilded Age” by Downton writer Julian Fellowes. The seventh of eight episodes in the first season was released for streaming this evening. I’m happy to know the series has been renewed for a second season.

”The Gilded Age” takes place in New York in the late 1890s, and it’s all about money and status and moving up the society ladder. George and Bertha Russell have built a grand home with their new money and she is eager to find her place in society amongst the Astors, the Vanderbuilts, and other well known names of the time period. The sets and costumes are gorgeous, there’s familiar elements from ”Downton Abbey” for those interested in the Upstairs/Downstairs story and Christine Baranski isn’t half bad as an American version of Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess of Grantham. (She’s called Aunt Agnes or Mrs. Van Rhijn).

It took me a couple episodes to warm up to the show, but by episode three everyone seems to be settling into their roles. Mr. Spector and Ms. Coon have been hitting it out of the park since we first met them in episode one. I love the power couple dynamic and they both seem to be reveling in their roles.

After this evening’s episode, with a little comedic twist at the end (no spoilers here), I‘m sad to see that next week’s episode is the last of this season.

I’m already looking forward to season two.

Public.

Taken on Valentine’s Day three years ago. Remember when we used to do things like this in public? Good times.

Jump.

When I first saw this photo pass by on social media I thought it was part of an Onion article or something. Admittedly I don’t have much interest in the Olympics this time around; I haven’t really been interested in the Olympics since they started happening every other year, so I haven’t paid much attention to what’s been going on.

But I had no idea that the Men’s Freestyle Skiing was on a man made slope next to a bunch of cooling towers from a closed down manufacturing plant. For some reason I thought the Winter Olympics were always head in places with mountains and snow and the like. You know, like Lake Placid, New York or the Alps or something. But in the middle of a manufacturing district of a Communist country? Why?

Being The Ricardos.

Photo from wikipedia.

I lived in Jamestown, New York for a few years in my early 20s. The city wasn’t far from where I went to college the first time, and when I found myself out of the college gig I found a job in Jamestown and settled in for a couple of years before moving onto bigger and better things. At the time, this was the late 1980s, Jamestown was starting to ramp up it’s “All Things Lucy” approach to tourism, after all, Lucille Ball was born in Celoron, New York (just outside of Jamestown) and had frequently mentioned Jamestown on “I Love Lucy” and during interviews and the like.

As a kid I watched “Here’s Lucy” and “I Love Lucy” reruns as they were available at just about any time. I always liked the show and as I grew older I’ve come to like Lucille Ball’s work as an comedic actor and an the head of Desilu studios on a more sophisticated level. When Amazon announced the release of “Being The Ricardos” I was intrigued. We took the opportunity to watch the movie tonight.

The film focuses on the typical week long production of an “I Love Lucy” episode in 1953, the week the news broke out that Lucille Ball had been registered with the Communist party. The film explores behind the scenes drama, how the news had broken out during that week, the courtship of Lucy and Desi Arnaz, and some of the strife of their marriage. Some historic liberties are taken with the script: Lucy’s pregnancy with Desi Arnaz, Jr. is moved to the same week as the Communist Party story (it was actually a year earlier) and the filmed episode in question was changed to the “Fred and Ethel Fight” episode. I feel like the portrayal of Lucy’s input into the production and insistence on creative decisions was accurate, it matches what I’ve read and seen in interviews and the like from other sources.

I’m going to avoid spoilers. I will say that very early in the movie I had to stop trying to believe that Nicole Kidman was Lucille Ball and just go with the flow that Nicole Kidman was standing in for Lucille Ball. With Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz it was easy; Javier didn’t look or sound anything like Desi Arnaz so it was easy to accept that it was just an actor playing the part. Nicole Kidman didn’t really look like Lucille Ball but there were some cosmetic decisions made to try to herd her in that direction and I found it distracting. Once I figured that out in my head it was fine. There’s a few slips of Nicole’s native accent in the movie that caught me off guard. There were two other lines that pulled me out of the moment, one of them referring to “the taping of the episode” (it would have been the FILMING of the episode in 1953, as taping an episode wasn’t a thing yet). The other line makes a very 21st century use of the word “literally” that felt out of place in the 1953 setting.

Overall we enjoyed the movie and I feel like it did the Arnazes justice. I recommend a viewing experience. It’s available on Amazon Prime.

Be.

Chris shared a meme on our family chat that I felt needed a wider audience. In today’s society we are told that appearing young and conforming to an expected body image gives us greater value. We should constantly keep track of calories and counteract any enjoyment we derive from eating with workout, lest that chicken sandwich end up on your hips. Ironically, the constant stress of achieving conformity wears us down just as much as not exercising and/or overeating.

Look, I encourage everyone to be as healthy as they can be. The general food supply for the country is loaded with fillers and sugars and fats and GMOs and all sorts of other crap. We are bigger on average than we were a few decades ago because of changes to the food available at the supermarket in the name of profit. I don’t put all the blame on High Fructose Corn Syrup and it’s brethren, but food has changed, portions have gotten larger, and lifestyles aimed at keeping up with the Joneses and meeting the demands of a capitalistic society have taking their toll on our eating habits.

Enough of the soap box.

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. I hope you enjoy the day as safely and as enjoyably as possible. And step aside from the guilt of eating a big meal. You can get back to your diet on Friday. Be aware, don’t be guilty, and most importantly, be yourself.

Lessons.

Jennifer Anniston in “The Morning Show”, photo from indiewire.

Last night we watched the the season two finale of “The Morning Show” on Apple TV+. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s available on Apple TV+, stars Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon, and chronicles what happens behind the scenes of a television network, and its flagship morning show, when one of the hosts are accused of sexual allegations, a la Matt Lauer.

We both found season one quite engaging and were excited when season two came out a couple of months ago. Apple TV+ has released the episodes on a weekly basis and last night the finale was released to the masses.

I’ll try to avoid spoilers best I can and will most likely speak in generalizations. However, you have been warned.


This is your last warning. (My read more widget isn’t working so this is the best I can do).


Season two takes place in the six or so weeks leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. We relive the “what is social distancing?” comments and “I don’t even know what contract tracing means!” exclamations all over again. This really bothered me through the entire season, not because I didn’t find it engaging, but because I really didn’t feel the need to relive the entire COVID experience again. I don’t know if I share this feeling with my fellow citizens, but the pandemic has been a terrible time for everyone I know and reliving the experience again for “entertainment purposes” was very hard for me. Maybe it didn’t bother others. I don’t know.

Season two also leans pretty heavily on “cancel culture” and I found the way the show tackles the subject to be spot on. Society, and American society in general, seems over obsessed with a lot of things that lead to “cancel culture” and of course it’s all fueled by social media. All the bad things that happen and are reported by social media have been happening for a very long time. All the fringe lunatics and the social justice warriors, and all of that have always been there. Social media has emboldened these groups and there’s a scene early in the season where one of the “villains” is approached and loudly humiliated in public for their past transgressions even though they were just sitting there drinking a cup of coffee. The aggression depicted as a result of social media anonymity and the desire to become Tik-Tok famous is very accurately portrayed, and it made me sad. I still enjoyed the way the show depicted the fallout of this type of behavior.

The one thing that really stuck out to me didn’t actually happen on the show, but as a result of watching the show. As we relived the pandemic through entertainment, it really struck me how much society did not learn from going through this pandemic together. By the way, I know we like to act like the pandemic is over, but it’s not. It’s under control but it’s far from being over. Too many folks are dying from COVID-19 on a daily basis, whether through circumstance or willful ignorance or a combination of both.

The thing we didn’t learn from the pandemic is that we need to adapt to a changing world to survive. We had the opportunity to come together, calm down on the vapid aggressiveness to one another, and take stock in what’s important and what is frivolous. As a whole, the world, and American society in particular, completely missed this point and continues to do anything they can to be loud, be aggressive, be tribal, and “be normal”. Normal before the pandemic wasn’t great. It wasn’t even that good. We had the opportunity to hit the reset button and we blew it. “The Morning Show” kind of portrays that in the season two finale, but it’ll go over the heads of most.

While this season was uneven and felt scattered (it was filmed during the pandemic so I’m sure that contributed to the effort) I still recommend it. B+

McRib.

McRib is back and I tried one today. It’s nothing like the McRib I remember. Specifically, the barbecue sauce is *way* off. Like, I’m burping up a weird after-taste over an hour later. I don’t know if it’s a regional thing or not but the McRib I had today vaguely resembled the McRib I remembered from days gone by. It’s been quite a few years since I last had one so I don’t know if this is a recent change or if this is a new sensation for 2021.

It is what it is, I guess.