Saturday, July 22, 2017

Aaaand... July is almost gone

Wow, I've really been shitty at keeping up this blog.

Guess I haven't had much to say. Well, nothing unique. I find most others are saying what I'm thinking a bit more eloquently.

With the world figuring out how to get into that hell-bound hand basket, I've been trying to get my own shit sorted. As usual, I've fallen out of my fitness habits so I'm trying to get some kind of routine that I think I'll follow and stick with that. I'm debating joining a gym, but I know I won't use it. I might try martial arts again. That's a great way to fuck myself up. Ye gods.

I'm a good season and a half behind on "Doctor Who" and not feeling super-motivated to catch up. I hear there's a female Doctor coming down the pipe. That ought to be interesting, I suppose.

"Game of Thrones" is back on. Sad I don't have HBO. I'm doubly-sad that Martin is almost-certainly never going to finish the book series. I'm irritated that I got hooked on something that will never have closure.

In truth, I gave up on Martin a long time ago. I've pretty much given up that Rothfuss will ever end his Kingslayer Chronicles at this rate. I'm not sure I care about that either, really.

FSM only knows what happened to Scott Lynch and his Gentlemen Bastards series.

A friend of mine pointed me to the English translation of Andrezej Sapkowski's Witcher series. I'm mostly through the first book "The Last Wish" and loving it. Looking forward to getting the rest of the series.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Random bits of whimsy

Commuting, as a rule, sucks.

It's not fun. It's not really supposed to be fun.

Commuting on BART is an especially dicey ride. You never know when you're going to be sharing a train with some wacked-out meth-head, violent nutjob, or just someone who hasn't had soap touch him in a year.

On top of that, BART is an aging system prone to breakdowns. Delays, while not super-common, are also not unusual. If it isn't an equipment failure of some sort, it's usually a medical emergency or some kind of police action.

On a bad day, you can get all three.

Commuting by train has its advantages. Sure, you rub shoulders with some people you usually don't really want touching your shoulder (or any other part), but if you have a book or a game on your phone, there's ways to pass the time.

And it's better than driving, most of the time.

Still, riding BART isn't something I especially enjoy anymore. It's more of a necessity than anything else.

What's helped take the sting away is the neat little things that I've come to notice over a few years of commute. You see, at one station (or possibly more), if you look down at the escalator steps, you can sometimes see that whomever painted the yellow warning markers on the side decided to add a little random smiley face on one of the steps.

I've seen these on two sets of escalators so far. On a really good day, sometimes I see them on concurrent uses of the escalators (assuming they're actually working).

This morning, I got to see both smiley faces I'm used to seeing. It's weird what a strange lift that was to my morning. It's a little thing, but it's nice to see those little bits of whimsy in an increasingly-depressing world.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Review: TAD Gear Rogue WX Jacket

Came into some spare change. Decided to do a little shopping. So I went out and picked up a Rogue WX Jacket by TAD Gear. I've had my eye on this since the first advert graced my email. I know TAD Gear did another version of their other Rogue Jacket (now called "Rogue RS") and I was intrigued.

The Rogue WX is a waxed jacket, which was the first big difference between the WX and the RS. The Rogue RS is a canvas jacket that's really lightweight. It's perfect for spring and autumn in most places (maybe with a layer) and summers in San Francisco. The WX is a heavier jacket, probably better suited for a chilly Spring day or a cool Autumn day. It's a bit heavy and warm for summers in San Francisco (and far too warm for summers in any other place that has actual weather). It's comfortable and fits well. Still has the various pockets that the RS has. The inner pockets are a tad smaller (pun not intended), but still big enough for a phone, small wallet, or whatever. The zippers are better on the WX. I assume they're the same on the revised RS. All-in-all, it's a nice purchase. The quality seems good and it's going to be nice to bust this puppy out when the weather gets chilly.

Review: "Perilous Waif" by E. William Brown

I have to admit to some mixed feelings about "Perilous Waif" by E. William Brown. It's a brilliant science fiction novel set in a universe with well-defined technologies and politics. The characters are engaging and fantastic. The narrative is solid and the dialog humorous and tight.

If I have a concern (not even a complaint) about the setting, it's trying to wrap my mind around the whole idea that it's told from the perspective of a thirteen or fourteen year-old-girl.

Yeah, it's not a problem to have a thirteen or fourteen year-old-protagonist. And I have no problem with that protagonist being an utter and complete badass (as the the protagonist, Alice Long, truly is). Where I get squishy is where the sexual stuff comes in. Oh, Brown's good. He doesn't have underage sex in his novel. But there's stuff in there that I have to admit I felt uncomfortable reading. Probably my own morals and that's my thing, but still.

Overall, "Perilous Waif" was brilliant stuff. A story of an extraordinary orphan girl who finds herself fleeing a bad situation and falling in with a crew of "freelance spacers". Before too long, she's mingling with mercenaries and space Yakuza for lost treasure. And then things get wild.

"Perilous Waif" is set up for a sequel, and I'm absolutely getting the next book in the series. I'm kinda hoping for a time jump, though. Just sayin'.

Late to the Game - Review: Wonder Woman

Yeah. So I'm going to start off with thoughts on DC heroes. DC Comics (who produce the icons such as Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern) are really solid at producing iconic, memorable, superheroes. Far better than their Marvel competitors, in my humble opinion.

That said:
  • DC movies don't hold a candle to the Marvel ones.
  • I largely dislike DC heroes.
Mainly, I really dislike Superman and Wonder Woman. I'm down with Batman. Mostly. Aquaman was a childhood favorite, but I mostly think he's a bad joke now. I love Green Lantern in his or her various incarnations, but DC has done a wonderful job muddying that mythology.

In film, the Marvel movies are just more fun than the DC ones. The first two Nolan-directed Batman films were pretty solid. The third was weak, but that's pretty much that. I've seen bits of the Superman films on flights. Enough to personally find them to be crap and not be inspired to finish them. The Green Lantern movie was... yeah... moving on. Batman vs Superman was a crime against cinema. I couldn't get through it far enough to see Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman be introduced.

So imagine my surprise when all the reviews (and several friends) praised the Wonder Woman film.

So today I finally saw it.

Damn that movie was awesome!

Wonder Woman pressed all the right buttons as a film. Solid origin story. Vulnerable-yet-badass hero (heroine?). Solid supporting cast. Good villain. Original setting (World War I). Solid feel. Great mix of humor and action.

Seriously. When they can produce films like this, it really makes me wonder what the fuck Warner Brothers was smoking for the Superman and Superman vs Batman films.

Except for a childhood crush on Lynda Carter's '70's Wonder Woman (from the titular TV series), I've never really cared for Wonder Woman. She's always seemed a bit silly. She flies an invisible jet? She has some kind of magical lasso? She's got a vague background-slash-origin that varies a lot. She's always seemed a bit of a ridiculous character to me.

No longer. This film knocked all the other DC heroes to the wayside and put a tiara of badassness on the brow of a dark-haired immortal heroine who makes Bruce Wayne look like a ridiculous tool and Clark Kent/Kal-El look just plain childish and silly. A crazy man who dresses like a bat and an alien who likes to wear under-roos can't compete with a goddess.

Wonder Woman did a brilliant job defining the character of Diana in her role as a child among seemingly-immortal Amazons. It established a solid mythology and did a great job setting up the antagonist of Ares. Casting Gal Gadot was fantastic. She was the perfect blend of badass while seemingly naive and a bit emotionally-vulnerable. Chris Pine's Steve Trevor was far better than I expected. The rest of the cast of characters were just icing on the cake. And setting the film in WWI was inspired genius!

Gorgeous and clever movie. It only slightly takes a back seat to Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 in my book. But just slightly.

I'm almost tempted to give the Justice League movie a chance. Almost.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Joys of Travel

Just got back from a trip to the UK. Was there for the election that resulted in a "hung Parliament", leaving them with a bit of an uncertain road ahead.

Interesting times.

I returned home with a box of fudge and some kind of cold or bug that may or may not be strep throat. I'm waiting to hear on the last bit. Goddamn but I hate flying now. When I was a kid, it was an exotic, interesting thing. Now I find myself in a tiny seat in coach for hours on end just praying to get the hell out of the plane. I avoid the airline food like the plague (which almost certainly saved me from stomach problems) which left me beyond hungry. The only saving grace was that international flights have a fairly good selection of movies.

I got to finally see The Wolverine (meh), Moana (excellent!), Logan (not bad), The Great Wall (terrible, but I enjoyed it nonetheless), Jupiter Ascending (wow... beautiful but horrible), and at least one or two other movies that have left no impression on my memory at all.

It's good to be home, sick or not. There's just something comforting about sleeping in one's own bed.

And it's nice to have cars driving on the right side of the road.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gotta love those spring colds

Two weeks I've been pretty much down-and-out with sinus issues and, for much of that, a wracking cough.

Just as I was thinking "tomorrow, I think I'll call the doctor", it's started to clear.

Still got the cough, but it's looser. Still have the sinus issues, but they're bearable and less-crippling.

Nature's really got it in for me this month.