Halt and Catch Fire Season 4

The final season has begun!

Season 4 moves the timeline out of the 80’s into the early 90’s (my best estimation based on the pop culture references is 1993). When we left our quartet they were plotting to start their next venture into a new and unproven market: the internet. The idea was a strong enough one for them to patch up old wounds and come together again. Now we find out that it didn’t last long.

Gordon and Joe stuck together to create their own ISP. Cameron agreed to work with them (Joe specifically) to create their own web browser. When she went back to Japan with her husband, the relationship fell apart. Cameron disappeared again while she worked on her own game (Pilgrim) leaving Joe floundering.

Donna, divorced from Gordon spread her wings elsewhere with Diane. She’s been extremely successful in a power position, leading her own teams as a rival to Gordon and Joe’s company (her web browser is doing way better). Diane is still together with John.

With the passage of time, the girls, Haley and Joanie, have grown up too. Joanie is a rebellious teenager and Haley is an introverted pre-teen.

While Gordon has been building the company, Joe more or less stayed in the company basement spinning his wheels trying to make the web portal of his dreams. Cameron left him in the lurch which gave the competition time to make advances on their head start. While Gordon has been spinning gold with what he’s been given, there are attacks on all sides in the increasingly growing space of ISPs. AOL is getting very aggressive which puts the squeeze on Gordon. During all this, Cameron has been in Japan and ends a 5 month disappearing act by coming to town. This sends Joe into a spiral as his muse comes back into his orbit.

The two episode premiere is a deep dive into the group. The brilliant team that keeps coming together and splintering apart. Gordon and Donna are still friendly even if their parenting skills could use work. Joe is more or less an emotional wreck and Cameron’s life has been secretly unraveling. Her next big game isn’t testing well (the video game space is changing dramatically at this time) and Cameron is stubbornly sticking to her guns that her vision is the end all be all for true gamers. Atari thinks otherwise.

Cameron’s return in crisis is more or less music to Joe’s ears. While he’s MIA with her, Gordon is doing all he can to keep the company running during a major crisis (due to competition). Donna also gets threatened at work despite making smart moves. No matter how successful she is, there is always someone hovering around ready to undermine her. While having dinner with Gordon she gets wind of a new idea Joe has about “indexing the entire web.” You see, not only are the amount of ISP’s growing, but the number of web pages is as well. Exponentially. Joe’s idea is the seed of a search engine. While there is some debate to this, I’m calling Donna’s move with her “Rover” team as a blatant steal. She knowingly nudges her team to brainstorm the idea in front of her so she can legally claim, if need be later on, that it was kismet. It’s something the industry was moving to and they got there on their own. She’s still got a rival at work to deal with so she hires John as a consultant to fend him off for now. Unbeknownst to her, John desperately needs the job.

Watching Joe and Cameron reconnect over the phone was some brilliant writing. I don’t think the fourth time will be the charm as they (and everyone else in this mess) seem to be cursed. But for now, it looks like they are naturally coming together and if they work together, what they did with Mutiny could be a spec of dust compared to what they are likely to accomplish. They will absolutely collide with Donna who struggles to tolerate the both of them. It’s going to get ugly and Gordon will be right in the beginning. It’ll be interesting to see where they take Haley’s newly discovered coding talents.

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Orphan Black <> Season 5 and Series End

I don’t have much to say as I think Orphan Black went out on top. This show went to some crazy places and largely stayed strong through its entire run. 50 episodes over five seasons. That’s a long time to tell a story and the show runners got to tell a complete one.

I watched the premiere episode the night it aired in 2013 and that first scene on the train platform hooked me. It never let me go. A creative show with an amazing cast, Orphan Black gave me all I look for in entertainment. Characters to love and hate, adventure, suspense, laughs and shocks to the system.

Tatiana Maslany must be praised up, down, left, right, front, and back for her amazing work on this show. She absolutely crushed it in the season finale and she must have some relief knowing that her next big gig won’t be her playing 12 characters. I don’t know how she did it.

Season 5 and especially the finale gave me what I wanted, closure. The main story arc that kicked off with the first episode has been completed. The layers of Dyad and the Neolution have been pulled back and explored. It took a heavy toll through the years. Many did not make it and those that do have scars. I know that while my time following these characters is over, somewhere they continue to live.

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Good sci-fi is hard to come by because it’s a difficult genre to crack. But when it happens, man is it a treat. Arrival is one such success.

When 12 alien space craft land on Earth, humanity is put on edge. In the mission to figure out who, what, where and most importantly, why they have come, linguist expert Louise Banks is enlisted. With her knowledge in language, she leads the American team to contact and communicate with the aliens.

Arrival works so well because every step in the filmmaking process was done right. What’s our story about, how can we make it stand out from the rest, and how do we get the message to the viewer clearly? The purpose of the pre-production of this film is the same as the films completed message: the importance of communication.

First, there’s the aesthetics of the movie. The alien presence is of course front and center. The ships are massive pebble shaped structures that hover silently just feet off of the ground  It looks organic, but other worldly. The interior, the little that we do see. shares the natural and minimalistic forms of the outside. The white barrier, where the aliens interact with the humans is the sole light source for the environment. Then, the rather brilliant design of the aliens themselves. The closest representation is aquatic life, but the shape and general articulation also incorporate a wild mix of human and arachnid representation. The alien scope of Arrival is very refreshing and enthralling to see.

One of the bigger selling points I found with Arrival is that it bucks the staple of an invasion movie. Yes, an attack is always on the table as a concern and a threat, but that feeds on our natural instinct to fear what we don’t know. The movie takes its time to slow things down and marinate on that tension. The intellectual side comes out to say, we have to figure this out to gives us every opportunity to come out of this on the other side. That’s where the communication comes in. We need to start with baby steps before we get to the hard questions. We must understand each other first so we don’t get mixed up.

The problems come when we stop talking.

I think this is the best work Amy Adams has done to date and Jeremy Renner as her co-star is another great choice. While the cast is rather small (I’ve been a fan of Forest Whitaker for a long time too), each one brings their own humanity to the screen.

The way this story is told is rather brilliant too. We go on this mission with Louise, she is our point of view. To talk about her journey as it comes around would take away a large part of the movie, so I won’t say any more on that (it’s the biggest hook of the movie, make sure to pay attention).

Arrival is a rather minimalist take on a close encounter alien movie, but it does actually gives you a lot. It’s foreign as it relates to other worlds and languages and rules. But it’s also familiar with its very human story. It’s expertly paced and edited (the sound work is exceptional as well) to under two hours that leaves you with much to consider while avoiding the traps of being too complex or trite.

I heard a lot of praise for Arrival when it came out and I’m happy to report that it was all well deserved.

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Logan is the Wolverine movie I’ve always wanted. Shockingly good. Easily the best X-Men related movie Fox has made to date, this is the kind of story telling the mutant side of Marvel desperately needs.

Set in 2029, Logan is exhausted and not doing well. Working as a limo driver in the southern parts of Texas, he’s resigned himself to staying on the fringes of society. Stay low, make enough money to take care of the ailing Charles Xavier. While struggling to keep things together he runs into a young mutant girl that pulls him into a fight that he can’t stay on the sidelines for.

This movie is Wolverine stripped down to his essence. The loner, the maverick, the samurai, the tempest that’s struggled to keep it together his entire life. Gone are the over the top globe trotting theatrics of the previous Wolverine (and X-Men) movies and it’s done to great effect. Simple works for Logan.

When we join him, it’s clear the past few years have not been kind to him. Then we see Professor X who is holding on by a thread, his illness making one of the world’s most powerful mutants a ticking time bomb. It’s alluded to that when Charles first got sick, something terrible happened (I like that it’s never fully addressed). Another deep scar for them both. This world they live in has gotten very dark. This gives Logan a singular goal: keep himself and Charles safe. Get away to make Charles less of a threat to the population. That’s all there is to his life. Then he meets Laura which pulls his past into the present. The hero must come back.

And what a hero he is. The R rating lets the action lean into Logan’s powers in all of its brutal glory. A living weapon that is devastatingly brutal in close quarters. Laura is no slouch either, she’s an absolute animal. This is no “save the world” story. It’s kept close to the chest, just like the action scenes. Ferocious and impactful, each scene makes its mark.

They found a hell of an actress in Dafne Keen for Laura. She’s perfect in every way. It’s really like watching a young Logan so their interactions together work. It’s a complete arc from his desire to run to the acceptance that he’s needed and needs others. You can’t be alone and be happy. It’s the connections and decisions you make on behalf of others that matter.

This movie is a series of correct decisions. It’s restrained when it needs to be and pops off when it must. No dialog is wasted. Some of the most powerful moments come after the storm and are whispered to those that matter.

Logan: It wasn’t me.

Logan smiles: So that’s what it’s like.

A triumph of a film, let alone a genre picture, Logan is fantastic.

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Bloodline Season 3 <> Series Finale

I’m a big fan of Bloodline and waited to watch the last season because I wasn’t ready for the end. With 10 episodes, it’s the shortest run so there was that much less to anticipate. So did they stick the landing in this family drama of lies and cover ups? Mostly.

I’ve thought of the best way I’d summarize each season. I call Season 1 The Crisis of The Black Sheep, Season 2 The Sliding Aftermath and Season 3 The Consequences. The Rayburn family had an old skeleton in its closet that only got worse with age.

This show had a unique story telling style. The first season wasn’t shy about telling you how it ended almost right from the start. How and why everything got to that point was the story. Season 2 was the escalation of lies. A snowball of cover ups that, for me, made a riveting season to watch.

The final season had a lot of psychological weight to it, a stress that pressed in on everyone for every episode. Mostly it was guilt, surrounded by suspicion and anger from those on the outside (you do not want to be an O’Bannon).

It goes really well for 8 episodes. Then, the penultimate episode took a surreal psychological twist that was very out of character for the show. Maybe not entirely as the Rayburn’s have been under stress that would crack most people. But it was the commitment to doing it for a whole episode that I find bewildering. The 8th episode ends on a major cliff hanger that you have to wait for the final episode to get back to. It’s a detour into a supposed important abyss that I think could have been done in about 10 minutes and then gone back to reality to keep the story on track.

The problem I have is that episode 9 wastes a lot of time that was needed for other characters. With the season being 3 episodes shorter than the norm, time was already of the essence and it made some character motivations come off as unclear and half baked.

There are three characters who basically lose their minds. Two of which I can get behind. The other…it’s a reach. It also feels like they ran out of steam on some story threads (it’s a good thing Netflix didn’t give them a final order of 13 episodes, it would have gotten really bad). I didn’t like what they did with Roy and there was a chunk of important background to him with Sally and Robert that needed to be explored. I didn’t understand Belle’s turn well enough at all. And Ozzy! I loved him in season 2 and he hit a brick wall. It’s like the writer who came up with him left and no one else could figure out how to integrate him back into the story. One of the bigger fizzles of the show for sure. It’s strange. Almost of the threads that went back to Danny (the keystone of the show) ended up being ignored for Marco and Roy.

With those missteps, the finale managed to be strong. At the beginning of the show, you know there can’t be a good ending. I did get closure for most of the main players. That feels good, having a good idea what happens to them after the credits. But the landing stumbles. I felt gipped on John’s ending. It plays out like a dream where some kind of redemption for him is brushed to the side. I’m all for the final scene being between those two characters, but stopping where they did is dumb. End it with a dialog to tell us if the decision was to tell another lie or tell the truth. Then cut it there for an ambiguous but purposeful end. I think all of my problems at the end are easily avoidable, you just need to start with getting that time back from episode 9.

Bloodline didn’t end as strongly as I had hoped, but I still think it’s a great show. I really love the premise (the cast is fantastic) and it’s packed with some intense and memorable scenes. Given time, I’m going return to the Rayburn Inn and enjoy that time in the Florida Keys again.

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Movie Menagerie 6

Jason Bourne- Overall, the Bourne series is very good. I liked the last one with Jeremy Renner. After Matt Damon backed away, I think they came up with a smart angle for Legacy to keep the franchise going without him. This is the 5th movie in the series and it brings back Damon and director Paul Greengrass. I love spy movies and this one is built more or less around closure for Jason. It’s a simple plot but effective. Bring in some returning characters, sprinkle in some new ones and sandwich all those people between elaborate action set pieces. So that’s all good. But again, Paul Greengrass. His style drives me nuts. Hyper kinetic, jarring direction. Fast zooms to establish where something is taking place followed immediately by a camera jerk to the left or right as a character enters. He adores moving the camera with punches as if that adds to the impact of hits. It doesn’t. It robs fight choreography and stunt men of their hard work to sell the action. If you can’t see the results, it doesn’t matter what happened before it. It ends up looking like they had no prep or filming time for the fights and had to cover up rushed work. Thankfully the vehicle chase scenes aren’t marred by such stupid filming decisions (the motorcycle bit at the beginning is largely fantastic as is the final car chase). That said, it’s left open for more movies and so am I.

Independence Day: Resurgence– Hmm. It’s pretty much what I expected. The original movie was fun when it came out 20 years ago and is really stupid. This is exactly the same, just 20 years later with different special effects techniques. I was 15 when the first one came out and I think anyone who is 15 for this one will dig it as much as I liked the first. Then time passes and you go, “Oh, no.” ID:R is popcorn filmmaking at its most cookie cutter presentation. It’s a sequel, so everything has to be bigger. Those massive ships that invaded 20 years ago? Nothing by what rolls up in this one. More destruction, bigger explosions. More stupidity. It’s just dumb. Horrible one liners delivered so ham fisted that everyone behind the camera while filming must have winced. References to the first movie to remind you that yes, this is a sequel. Characters who show up exactly where they need to be at exactly the right time almost every scene. The coincidences are out of control. Groups of characters able to communicate with the thinnest of technological explanation that boils down to “just go with it.” Child actors put in for absolutely no reason. It is what it is, not a good alien invasion movie. I will say, the special effects are often exceptional. At least you can see where most of the money went.

Rogue One– As a casual Star Wars fan, this RO is a fun watch. But just like The Force Awakens, one viewing is going to be enough for me. This movie tries, at every frame to be in the Star Wars movie. It sometimes feels like the production was so concentrated on that goal, that it was never allowed to do anything new. There are new characters (who tend to mumble in the beginning for some reason), new places to visit with a prequel story that most people know the ending to. Sure, the journey takes up 99% of the film so that ultimately works. The special effects also work. There’s some gorgeous stuff from start to finish that establishes the galaxy in believable ways. I also liked how this story embraced the “war” aspect of Star Wars. While we’ve seen a lot of space battles in the series (and RO matches that bar) the on the ground fighting gets greatly expanded. That felt new. As mentioned there are a lot of new characters and many of them are great. But it’s fleeting. You don’t get to spend much time with them so there’s little character building. For a universe so well established, many of those important to the story is just a blip in time. I guess we can expect spin off comics and merch for many but that feels lame to me. As strong as the last act is in terms of action (the ultimate being Darth Vader’s hallway slam poetry session) there is a stupid amount of stupid hoops they had to jump through. We need to get this thing that’s really hard to get to! *work to get to it* Ah, it’s behind all this stuff and we gotta get it manually with this claw machine game! *gets it* Now we gotta go up! *go up* Now put it in! And it doesn’t work! Is the power on? Oh, it’s telling me the somaflange isn’t aligned right. We have to align that, I guess. I hope the guys in space are doing their thing for us to finish this at the very last moment. Even the last bit with Vader is contrived. He could have got what he wanted with a force grab and be done with it. I don’t know, maybe I’m turning into a fuddy duddy.

The Accountant– This turned out to be a surprise for me. I don’t remember this Ben Affleck led thriller even coming out in theatres. The easiest way to explain this is that it’s Affleck’s Jason Bourne. Christian Wolff has a completely different background and has a day job to cover up his side work. Good story (seems like it could have started as a book but I didn’t think it did) that Affleck sells well. The action is fantastic and unlike a certain director, you can see what’s going on at all times. My only problem is when the movie comes to a screeching halt for a massive exposition section. Like, all of Wolff’s backstory comes out in this section and then the story starts back up for the third act. There had to have been a better way to do it. Not enough to ruin the movie for me as I’m still going to recommend it. I’d be down for another one. I like the character a lot and I think a sequel could turn out to be much better.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping– This movie is so stupid it’s great. Conner is a former boy band member who’s about to release his sophomore solo album. When it tanks, he does everything he can to keep his career alive. The Lonely Island guys are behind this so the songs are obnoxiously terrific. It parodies what pop music has become (more or less the nonsense lyrics that passes for rap now) perfectly and highlights how the tide of popularity can swing in an instant. Being famous can come at a high price. There are tons of cameos and while I laughed throughout, the limo scene is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. It’s worth watching just for that.

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RIP Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington’s suicide has shocked everyone. His passing is terrible and I can only wish peace for his family and friends. He left behind many people.

I saw Linkin Park once. The 2004 Projekt Revolution Tour. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen, the sold out crowd of something like 12,000 people were in a trance for the entire thing. Their fan base adored (and still adores) them and the band played in kind. A feedback loop of energy that’s impossible to forget. Chester was a major part of that and he positively affected countless people.

From the outside, you think success is all you need in life to be happy. Fame couldn’t hurt either, an acknowledgment that people dig what you do. Since 2000, Linkin Park has gone strong and remained incredibly popular so it’s easy to assume they’re all perfectly happy people. It’s never that simple. Chester survived abuse as a child and that followed him his entire life. Drug abuse and depression were a part of his life, unfortunately. He wore his heart on his sleeve in his songwriting but I guess he hid his deepest scars from everyone as long as he could.

If anything, this is another reminder that we need each other. Don’t keep it all to yourself, talk and others can and will listen and help.

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The Summer Lull gets a pinch on the behind

Two big returns last night.

Game of Thrones- Everyone watches this and there are a million reaction articles up for the Season 7 premiere so I’ll be very brief. Solid return that sets up the board for the next six episodes of the season (that ain’t much so there can be no down time). After the crazy end of Season 6, we were basically shown where and what all the remaining players are doing. The North is gearing up a defense for the undead and the South is working on getting new allies to reclaim dominance over The Seven Kingdoms. The Dragon of Dragons has finally made it to her ancestral home. She was a very small part of the premiere so I expect major movement from her end of the board next week. It felt good to be back in Westeros and man does this show look good. Just about every shot is impressive.

The Strain- This one totally snuck up on me. It’s the final season too! I forgot how enraged I got over what Zach Goodweather did in the finale. Every time he appears on screen I’m annoyed and want him to be hung up by his ears. Despite my aggravation over the dumb kid, it’s turned the show to a new level of bleakness and grave stakes. The show started with finding about the threat, then rode on preventing the threat and now it’s on the verge of all hope is gone. It’s 9 months after the fallout and the nasties are well on their way to reforming the world. The team is busted apart with Eph broken over what Zach did and hiding out in Philly. Fet has managed to cling to a final chance for human survival. On a mission from Abraham, he’s running around North Dakota with a new woman and Mr. Quinlan looking for a nuclear war head. It’s looking bad but the good news is that Eph runs into someone who might give him a renewed sense of purpose. The fight isn’t over. Looking forward to what happens.

My movie watching has hit the skids lately but I expect that to change shortly. I have more to watch than I know what to do with. I still haven’t started the final season of Bloodlines, I think I’ll crack that open once I’ve mosied through Master of None. Probably do House of Cards after that. The amount of quality content on Netflix is absurd.

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Director Bong Joon Ho’s last film, Snowpiercer knocked my socks off so I was really looking forward to this one. As a whole, it delivered, but there are some weird choices.

Okja is a super pig, a new kind of animal that its owner, the Miranda Corporation, promises will be a world changing animal. Non-GMO, terrific for the environment and a new source of food for the growing world population. Over 10 years, the Miranda Corp has rolled out a plan to introduce this new species to the world. A few of these infant animals are sent across the globe to farmers who will raise them and then a “Worlds Greatest Super Pig” competition will be held to celebrate this wonderful project.

Mija is a young woman in South Korea who, with her uncle (grandfather?), raise Okja. Then the Miranda Corp comes a calling and it becomes immediately clear that the Corporation has been less than truthful. This film takes a look at how the human population survives and thrives today and the morals that come with it. There are so many people consuming so many resources that it’s a constant race to keep ahead of it all. Marketing and profit rule our capitalist planet and any lie is worth telling to sell a product.

Much of the movie is about the ethics of the meat industry. Okja is designed to tug at the heart strings. She’s super cute, gentle and smart to the level of being problem solvers (these super pigs are not cows or chickens in the brains department). There’s a personification to Okja where she has a personality and the visual FX are good enough to make you think that she’s real.

Once Okja is taken from her home, Mija is on a mission not to rescue her pet, but her family member. You got all the battles of humanity here. The Miranda Corporation is heartless and gross who frame everything as they’re doing all this for the great good of humans. Ethics and compassion be damned, these critters are made to be delicious and profitable. The Animal Liberation Front is the animal activists on the case to stop Miranda and expose what they are really up to (Okja is genetically modified and these sentient beings are being made simply for mass slaughter).

Okja is a really well story that is all things you’d expect in a tale like this. Touching, exciting, heroic, maddening and crushingly sad. The last act of the movie is some crushing stuff, it can get hard to watch. While the special effects bring Okja to life, the live cast makes everything believable. Tilda Swinton, Giancarlo Esposito, Steven Yeun, Paul Dano and Jake Gyllenhaal round out the well-known cast members. Korean actress Seo-Hyn Ahn as Mija is easily the best though. Her journey is a harrowing one and every step, jump, slide, crash, and plea is a meaningful one.

Now for the two things that stick out to me. The way the Super Pig Competition goes down in New York City is really half baked. Sure the event was a sham in the end, but I don’t see how putting up a clearly stressed animal (even under the ideal circumstances the Miranda Corp thought it was going to go down) was going to give the public good feels about it. Then we have Jake Gyllenhaal as Johnny Wilcox, a Steve Irwin type animal TV personality. I don’t understand why they had this character act that way. He doesn’t match what’s going on at all. He sticks out so much from the rest of the movie it’s like Willy Wonka showed up on the Titanic. Distracting and ultimately useless, the character could have been cut entirely and not be missed.

The ending is probably the only way that it could have been done to make it satisfying and complete. I’d call it realistic as it straddles the line of being too happy to be believable and too upsetting that it would turn off a large part of the audience. Plus, Mija gets in done in a way that fits one of the major themes of the movie. It makes sense and it works.

Overall an effective and well made movie. Recommended.

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TV and movie round up

Orange is the New Black- Season 5 was overall good. It felt rather slow as a whole (a problem of too many characters) with bits of greatness spread around. The last three episodes felt like the best and most engaging part of this riot based season. You’d think there would be more suspense in a three day stand off but it is what it is. I’d say it keeps a solid show running well and the end is especially good.

Trollhunters- I really, really liked this. Some terrific animation and the main cast of characters is fantastic. It tells a full and satisfying story in it’s 20 something episodes that were really well paced and changed the stakes often enough to keep the story fresh. Great show for all ages, something parents can watch with their kids.

Blame!- Cookie cutter anime that brings nothing new to the table. There’s some good animation but there’s nothing here to save it from mediocrity. Skip.

Attack on Titan- It took season 2 forever to come out and I gotta say it was disappointing. Not enough happened for my taste. I’m not a mega fan (season 1 has serious and repeated anime cliches holding it back) by any stretch and was hoping for more. Not sure if I’ll bother with season 3.

GLOW- From some of the creators of Orange is the New Black, GLOW shares a lot of feeling with that show. The nearly all-female cast being the main one. I think this is way better than Orange. It’s the perfect tone from start to finish. Giving respect to the sport and the people who devote their lives to it was the right move. The cast is big but manageable so cast members and plot lines don’t get lost in the shuffle. Superb casting, it’s often very funny and always has a lot of heart. The show looks like it was shot and made in the 80’s which is a major achievement and is a major selling point for me. Women’s wrestling is often overlooked so giving the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling a chance to (fictionally) shine makes for a unique show. I ran through season 1 really fast and hope for more to come.

John Wick 2- I’m a big fan of the first movie with it’s more simplistic but professional take on assassin/action genre films. The set up is really simple (assassin Wick is brought out of retirement when the idiot son of a crime boss crosses the line with Wick’s family) and it’s just an hour and 15 minutes of long, wide angle shot action set pieces. So Wick 2 surprised me in how it didn’t try to push any of what made the original great. The set up is even simpler if that’s possible, and more bare bones from start to finish. Wick is a man of few words and I think he says even less in this one. It’s just loosely strung together action scenes that all feel more of the same. Not terrible, I was just expecting a lot more. I kept saying, “That’s it?” Not a good take to have.

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Where is the wisdom in this?

Last Friday I had my bottom two wisdom teeth removed. While not the horror show I thought it would be, the experience can still be summed up as: it sucks.

Novocaine was used, no knock out juice. The procedure itself was fast, I think 20 minutes. While there’s little to no pain during it, the sounds are super gross. The smell of ground teeth from the drill is horrific.

Pain-wise, it’s not bad. I’d say it’s uncomfortable and Tylenol with Codeine takes care of the worst of it. I’ve had strange flare ups of pain, but it feels more like I’ve been punched in the face one a day for the past week. The swelling is the worst as it just makes you feel annoyed more than anything else. The weird thing is that where the teeth were removed from has hurt the least. The swelling is all over the bottom gums. The whole mouth freaks out from the trauma. Speech has been impaired and eating has lost all of its joy. I’m very conscious of chewing differently to keep food away from the back. My biggest problem is that that I haven’t regained feeling on the lower left side.

My biggest problem is that that I haven’t regained feeling on the lower left side. The entire lip from corner to middle of my face and down about an inch and a half is numb. Two teeth in the front feel super weird like the novocaine hasn’t worn off yet. The nerve on that side is all goofed up from the swelling (most likely, it better be) so I’m basically on a wait and see how everything heals for everything to come back to normal (the stuff on the consent form is some nightmare stuff).

It’s been a week today which seems to be the major milestone for this type of surgery. Everyone is going to be messed up for that long so the next few days should see the biggest improvements. Monday I get the stitches out, looking forward to that.

Now, how stupid is this whole thing? Our jaws aren’t big enough for all the teeth we naturally grow. Over 90% of people need their wisdom teeth removed or they cause serious problems. And who’s the dope that named them ‘wisdom’ teeth? Where is the wisdom in this useless and miserable body part?

I still need the top two out. Maybe I can convince my body to absorb them.

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Better Call Saul <> Season 3

This season flew by and gadzooks was it good. Rock solid storytelling made all the more impressive considering how many characters are involved.

The main hook for the show is its ties to Breaking Bad and they put in some juicy bits for fans this year. We’ve seen Mike before but the major piece this year is Gustavo Fring. Along with Fring comes Hector Salamanca. Fascinating stuff. They write the coolest scenarios for Mike and that leads to him meeting Fring, who’s butting heads with Salamanca. What we watch unfold is a direct line to Breaking Bad.

You can’t have Saul without Jimmy of course. The flawed man I love to hate and constantly find myself rooting for no matter what. His brother Chuck, I hope eternally that I get to see him get what his arrogant ass deserves.

With that said…Jimmy goes to really dark places this season. Much of Jimmy’s arc this year is his feud with his brother and it comes to a head. Last year got pretty nuts but I was reeling at the last scene of this season. The fighting goes (fittingly) to the court room and I pretty much steer clear of any courtroom drama shows, they just aren’t my thing. What they did here blew me away it was so riveting and the fallout is nuts. Of course, I’m completely invested in these characters so that makes a world of a difference.

In the middle of all of this (or woven in I should say) is Kim. The only anchor Jimmy really has. She’s a kindred spirit to Jimmy, the share similar experiences in being suppressed and shoved aside despite being so damn good at their profession.

Their ultimate success so far is striking out together in their own practice. Kim wisely insulated herself last year knowing what Jimmy is like. When the verdict comes down from the trial and Jimmy is forced out, it’s a very telling moment for his personality. He’s going to struggle to pay for his part of the office. Kim sees it as just a building, they can move on. It’s much more to Jimmy. It’s a physical landmark to his achievements from under Chuck’s thumb. He’s completely distraught over the idea of losing it. So he gets creative to keep it.

And creative Jimmy is dangerous. We know Jimmy is good (goodish?) at heart but time and time again we see how myopic his view of the world is. That total jerk of a human being is always right underneath the surface. Total disregard with what others could go through as long it benefits him. When he gets his way it’s all about him, just disregard or ignore anything else because I’m making moves. Jimmy has a way of rationalizing things (I’m doing it for us!).

The steam rolling he and Kim give Chuck, which in the end is fascinating to see her take Jimmy’s methodology over her own. She’s run simple scams on some tools for fun with Jimmy, but this was something else. Kim was really onboard to stop Chuck. Then the Irene play Jimmy did. That was straight up grimy and it came as a real relief for me to see him do the right thing in the end.

The very end though? Oof. Chuck’s arc this season is a masterclass in storytelling.

Better Call Saul has a slow and deliberate way to its story arcs. It moves at its own pace by taking the time to set things up. The payoff often takes awhile to come around, not a lot of instant gratification. Each piece moves on its own. For example, Mike’s story arc finishes before all others, there’s a decent amount of show to go when we leave him. But he’s not completely gone as his involvement is passed off to Nacho. That whole web is set up with Fringe early on too. The first half of the season was Mike doing his awesome covert ops stuff and then that morphs into Nacho’s ultra dangerous plot.

Saul is edited slow, it’s completely against the MTV grain of hyper cutting and breakneck pacing. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the show and I think that turns off a lot of people. I don’t think nearly enough people know how great Saul is. I’m so impressed with this season and I can’t wait to see what happens next. With how things are going, it makes me wonder how much is left to tell. Maybe two seasons until we run up against the BB timeline?

I tip my hat to everyone involved in the production: cast, crew, et al.

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