Category Archives: Random/Thoughts

Optimistic Nihilism

Ok, so this is about to get real. Warning, this is going to get “religious” and so if you feel strongly in your “religious” ideologies and are easily offended I would reccomend turning back now. Just know that as usual, this is more for me than it is for you so ultimately, you don’t have to read it.

–This is a work in progress. I may add to it, detract from it or leave it as it is.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to think that the only reason religion works is because people are afraid of death. Most people are afraid of the unknown or of things that are not in their control. Death exists in the middle of this Venn diagram. Those who consider themselves to be religious believe that if they pray and are good people, they will go to heaven.

It is this core belief that makes religion “work,” and keeps it existing. However, it is also a very old human institution which has existed in society for so long that many people do not question the use for it.

“…you are a slave … Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”

This is one of the things that I find scariest and perhaps the most interesting. Let’s assume that person x was raised with a religious upbringing. This is not something that they chose but rather was forced upon them against their will. Person x was born into the largest cult that has ever and likely will ever exist (speaking of religion as a whole and not the various branches, sects or belief systems).

As person x grows up, it is only through their experiences and choices that they will decide to either continue being part of this cult, or decide that these beliefs are not necessary or relevant to them and therefore are no longer an element of their life.

Let me pause by saying that as a whole, I guess I don’t see a huge problem with religion. If some people feel that it helps them to be a better person or that they get something out if it, then that’s fine. What I don’t like is that so much of religion dictates aspects of the function of our society and even parts of our government.

You can do and believe whatever you want. However, never make me feel badly for not feeling the same way as you do and never cause me harm because I do not feel (believe?) the same way. That is my issue. There have been so many struggles and so much violence in and around the various religious beliefs that I see it as something that does more harm than good.

The idea for this blog was sparked by the video above (their channel by the way is filled with cool videos). The video was recommended to me through a podcast I was listening to -Threedom- which, by the way, is quite funny. One point this video makes is that when you die, you will cease to exist forever. (Forever is another topic about which I could spew many words). This leads me to perhaps some sort of a point to this nonsense.

One does not remember all of the time that existed before one was born. Time is only relevant to a person once they are born. The “spirit,” “soul,” or more scientifically, the mind is really what we are concerned with with regard to our being.  Thus when we die we cease being; we are ostensibly unborn. Our body remains, but that too will eventually break down and become matter of the earth, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” as it were.

I do not claim to not fear death. I, like most of the rest of the world, know it is coming for me, that I am constantly marching towards it. However, knowing that there is nothing I can do to stop it, I choose, as I’m sure most of the rest of the world does, not to think about it (as best I can). If one lets the fear of death and what lies beyond  it -nothing by the way, nothing lies beyond it- control them, one is not truly able to live or at least enjoy living while they are alive.

I used to consider myself an existentialist. Existentialism is, I feel, somewhat vague but what I took it to mean is that our lives have no inherent meaning but that is our job to give our life meaning though the things we do.

–Additional media

Neal deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic? (video)

Church Going – Philip Larkin (poem)

God Is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens (book)

Mans Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankel (book)

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2017 Top Five

When I look back on the year that was 2017, I think that all in all, it was very good to me. I did a lot of cool things, went to a bunch of cool shows, and met a lot of cool people. Here is a list of my top five accomplishments from this year.

Side Note: here’s a link to Catching Up, a post I created in June to show how much I’d done by that time alone!

1) Japan – I finally went on vacation to Japan, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a very long time. While there I was able to check off a lot of things from my to do list. I got to: fly on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, see a whale shark, visit Liberty Walk, visit Nagashima Spa Land and ride Steel Dragon 2000 (a coaster I’ve wanted to ride for 17 years!), ride the Shinkansen (bullet train), see Mt Fuji, visit RWB (Porsche), go to Tokyo Disney Sea, ride go karts on the streets of Tokyo, and see The 5.6.7.8’s in concert.

2) Got a “promotion” – I put promotion in quotes because though I did get a raise with my new job, in terms of level of importance, I am not much, if any, higher from the bottom than I was before. That said, it is a new position and it makes me feel like I have the potential to go places within the company. Additionally, I like it’s better than the role I was in before, so that’s a plus.

3) Moved to Brooklyn – this is the third year in a row that moving has been listed amongst my accomplishments. Unlike the last time I moved to NY, where it was more haphazard, this time the move was due to my new job which required a relocation to the East Coast headquarters. The nice thing is, because I’d lived here before, I was comfortable finding a place to live, getting around, and exploring the city.

4) Met a bunch of people – I got to meet several of my hero’s or people I admire/look up to. While at Liberty Walk I met Kato San (the man who started it) and at RWB I met Nakai San (the man who started it). This was a pipe dream that I did not expect to come true. I also got to meet Josh and Eli from Smoking Popes and I got to meet Matt Gourley and Paul F. Tompkins at the Superego show. I also got to meet my new co-workers who have become very good friends.

5) Explored New York (and beyond) – since moving here, I’ve been to a bunch of shows including: Dave Chappelle, Just Between Us LIVE, Smoking Popes, Eleanor Friedberger, Superego, Angel Olsen, LCD Soundsystem and a few underground shows sprinkled in between.

I did a bunch of cool things like going to Bike Expo New York, did a lot of karaoke at The Alligator Lounge, went dancing at Home Sweet Home, went to Smorgasburg, went to the Mermaid Parade, went pool hopping at the FiDi Hilton, went to Coney Island and rode the Thunderbolt and the Cyclone, went to Six Flags Great Adventure, went on a 30+ mile bike ride with my buddy Jordan, took a day-cation to Philadelphia, played movie trivia at Videology, found “MIB headquarters,” went to Bike Kill, went to Fat Cats to play pool with my co-workers, went to Jingle Hells pop up bar, not to mention all the other bars, clubs and restaurants I either went to or have scoped out for future visits, went to several house parties and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

I visited a bunch of museums including The Met, The MoMA, The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of the City of New York, The Queens Museum, The Brooklyn Museum and The Cloisters. I also checked out public art such as Descension by Anish Kapor and Photoville. Additionally, I went to the Louis Vuitton exhibit Volez Voguez Voyagez.

I’ve gone to and or ingested (in one way or another) a bunch of movies this year, namely: Alien Covenant, It Comes At Night, Spiderman Homecoming, Dunkirk, Passengers, The Founder,  My Neighbor Totoro, Nocturnal Animals, The Incredible Jessica James, Wonder Woman, The Big Sick, Mother!, Blade Runner 2049, Baby Driver, Jim and Andy and the Great Beyond, Lady Bird, Man on the Moon, Get Out, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Voyeur.

Lastly, I attended the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I finally attended this parade with my sister, something that has been on my bucket list for a long time because the watching on TV of which has been a part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition for as long as I can remember. My sister and I would wake up on Thanksgiving morning, in a similar way as we would for Christmas, run downstairs and put on the TV to watch the parade. We always said that one year we’d see it live and now we can finally say we did.

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Top 10 Movies 2017

I’ve watched a LOT of movies this year both in theaters and on various streaming services. Here is a list, in basically no order, of my top ten.

1. Get Out – I was really late to the game with this one. I had heard a lot of really great things but just wasn’t interested in seeing it in theaters. Eventually, when it came on HBO, I watched it. Damn. I wished I had seen it in theaters with an audience. Great scares and social commentary. It so lived up to the hype.

2. Baby Driver – this too I avoided in theaters. I thought I was going to hate it but it ended up being very good. So good in fact that I wrote a full review on it. (See previous post)

3. Mother! – this may have been the most unexpected movie of the year for me. I had only seen the poster for it, no trailers, perhaps the best way to go into a movie. I think because of that it was a blank slate. I have never seen anything that felt like being in a fever dream. Such a clear vision from Aronofsky and so many layers of meaning. A real art house piece, the truly comes together at the very end.

4. The Big Sick – I was waiting to see this in theaters with a date but that never happened. When I eventually did see it I was pleasantly surprised at how funny and how serious and good it was. I love Kumail and Emily for all the other work they do. You get to know them so much through podcasts and what not that you feel like they’re you’re friends. I felt so proud of them for not only writing and making a movie, but making a really good one.

5. Jim and Andy and The Great Beyond – this too was a surprising doc about the making of the 1999 bio-pic Man on the Moon. I was too young to know who Andy Kaufman was when the movie came out but seeing how the role swallowed Jim Carrey whole was really quite fascinating. Getting to see Carrey as this more subdue real person was incredible and I found that he and I share many similar existential thoughts.

6. Rolling Stone: Stories From the Edge – this two part HBO documentary is partially the story of the magazine itself, partially the story of the music that inspired it, partially a story of the politics that shaped it and partially an overall historical retrospective. It gave me a new found respect for the magazine and a desire to create.

7. The Defiant Ones – this four part HBO documentary is like a very long episode of VH1’s Behind The Music. I’m a sucker for a good documentary and when you’ve got one covering and being told by as many interesting and influential people in the music industry as this one has, mainly though, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Ivine, forget about it, I’m all in.

8. The Incredible Jessica James – Jessica Williams brilliantly dry comedic style is complimented by the loveably dorky Chris O’Dowd in this unsuspecting yet fairly realistic feeling romantic comedy.

9. Dunkirk – Dunkirk is a bit of an unsung hero amongst these films. I expected it to be longer. Most war movies are long and Chris Nolan movies are no exception, but this was under two hours. I’ll admit that I perhaps went in with too high of expectations. That said, it followed Nolan’s style of approaching a topic from an angle that puts the audience off kilter. I will say, knowing what it is now, I would like to see it again. Additionally, this, along with Mother! is the only other film that should potentially win the Academy Award sound design.

10. The Founder – an unexpected hit, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the story, not of the creator of McDonald’s, but by the man who franchised it. His way of manipulating people, usually by force, rather than permission, to get what he wanted, though devious, was nothing other than admirable.

 

 

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Baby Driver

The other day, after putting it off for a long time, I finally watched the movie Baby Driver. Overall I really enjoyed it and feel it was one of the better movies I’ve seen all year. This movie had a bunch of strong points that I wanted to highlight.

Dialogue

The dialogue in this movie is like poetry. Every line feels intentional and well crafted. Of course I can’t think of an example off the top of my head, but there was sense of wit about a bunch of the lines. To be clear, a lot was over the top. It’s not that the dialogue felt realistic, almost the opposite.

It felt so over the top as if each character had had the perfect amount of time to think about what they were going to say and then said it. In some movies this might come off as annoying or fake but in this movie, stylistically, it fit.

Music

It was obvious and undeniable even from the trailer that music was going to play a huge role in this movie. Because the main character has ear buds in a good deal of the time, we get to experience his mood and feelings through the music he’s listening to. A decent amount of the music were songs with which I was unfamiliar. Regardless, it added for a great tone throughout the movie.

I wouldn’t doubt that when Edgar was writing this movie (see what I did there), he had a lot, if not all of these songs in mind and said to himself, “Now how do I craft a scene around this song?” If I’m correct in this assumption, it would mean that his writing style is very similar to mine.

Music is often times, if not always, the backbone of the several screenplays I’ve attempted to write. The inspiration for many an opening or closing sequence to a potential movie I would make comes from either the feeling I get from a song or from the lyrics itself. It seems to me Edgar has done a similar, if not the exact same thing.

Sidenote: the bit where Baby actually makes music from the recordings he has is totally dope and is another great use of music.

Choreography

Essentially, the first 20 minutes of this movie is a series of music videos. None more obvious than the sequence after the first car chase, a music video in it’s own right, when Baby is going to get coffee for the crew.

Everything down from the way he moves through the scene, unabashedly walk/dancing, but also the fact that there is blatant graffiti which he encounters along the way with key lyrics from the song -Harlem Shuffle- which is playing in his ear buds.

To top it off, if memory serves, this entire sequence from when he exits the building, walks down the street, crosses the street, goes into the coffee shop, orders the coffee, leaves the coffee shop, goes back across the street and re-enters the building he started in, is all one continuous shot. If I’m correct about this being a long continuous shot, it makes this already visually impressive sequence that much more impressive.

Sidenote: the sequence where Baby makes lunch for his foster father is another great use of choreography.

Editing

In addition to the aforementioned continuous shot for the Harlem Shuffle sequence, the editing throughout this movie is very intentional and obvious, but well done. Typically, editing is the invisible art of movie making. If you’re not paying attention to the cuts and transitions from scene to scene (or even the cuts within scenes for that matter) the editor has done their job correctly.

In this movie however, oftentimes cuts are made blatantly to disrupt a scene in order to slide the audience into the next one. Some of these cuts become a part of the overarching character of the movie itself.

The only other movie that immediately comes to mind with regard to this stylistic editing is Pan’s Labyrinth. Both movies (as well as many others, but for whatever reason, these ones in particular) use objects in the scene -cars, reflections, animate and inanimate objects- as focal points to move the audience into the next scene. It’s a really cool stylistic choice that fits with this movie.

Direction

Honestly, there is really only one very specific thing I wanted to highlight. The first time they are in the elevator on the way down to the parking garage; the way Kevin Spacey’s character gets out of the way for one of the robbers as he exits the elevator is done so intentionally that it stands out.

However, again, as is the case with most of the things I’ll mention in this “review,” it stands out in a good way. I have to imagine this comes down to the direction that was given to him and not just a choice that the actor made on his own.

Story

The story of this movie I felt, overall, was very good. The first two acts were very strong but it lost me a bit in the third act; we’ll get to that later. This I think is the movie that a lot of people thought they were going to see when they saw the movie Drive, rather than the brooding drama they actually got.

Interestingly, this is what initially turned me off about Drive. It looked like another crappy Fast and the Furious movie (I will say I like the first and the second ones) and I was not into it. However, after I was essentially forced to watch Drive and found out that it was a serious drama in which driving only plays a small role, I was on board and ended up really liking it.

I was nervous Baby Driver might be just another pop corn movie. Something thoughtless like the countless superhero movies we are being inundated with lately that only requires you to have a pulse in order to go see them.

However, though it certainly is more “poppy” than the Drives of the world, it manages to also maintain enough substance to hold my attention on a deeper level. It does a pretty good job of walking the line between “Pop Song” and “Ballad.” I would say it certainly holds it’s own with films like Gone in 60 Seconds and The Transporter, two other movies that, at least in my opinion, are some of the best “wheel man” movies of our time.

As I said at the beginning of this section, the biggest and only real “problem” I have with this movie is the third act. I get that there needs to be conflict in a movie in order to make it interesting, I just felt that the execution was not up to par with the rest of the movie.

The actual events that we see happen seemed a bit too “Hollywood action movie” for me. This was one of the things I was afraid of going into it. Things start to go really off the rails. We get a lot of explosions and more violence than we’d seen throughout the rest of the movie and even the characters, specifically Baby, start to act in ways that they hadn’t before in the hour and a half of the movie.

It took, what I felt was, too strong of a tonal shift. Baby goes from a cool, calm subtle character to one who totes a gun, shoots people and is almost manic. I realize that a lot is happening to him and the people he loves, but it seemed it could have been handled in a more delicate way.

Granted he’s just a kid, he’s not some James Bond character who’s trained to plan and strategize and infiltrate the enemies lair so to speak. But it just seemed out of character for him, and the movie for that matter, to suddenly go off the rails the way it does.

Notes for Edgar

Though this may be cliché (as are likely the rest of my suggestions), I thought it would have been cool if Kevin Spacey’s character made good on his threat and actually kidnapped Debrah. It would have made for a great final standoff between these two characters. I there standoff he would say something like:

“You don’t just get to walk away from this. I gave you everything and this is how you repay me!?”

It seemed odd to me that instead, Kevin Spacey’s character grows a conscience and actually helps them to escape by killing the cops.

I thought it would have been cool if at one point Deborah finds out what Baby is doing for a living and decides to break up with him. This would allow for him to come in at the end and save her, therefore redeeming himself and causing her to fall back in love with him.

I also thought it would have been interesting if Buddy and his wife were actually undercover cops that helped Baby to “infiltrate the enemies lair” in my re-written ending to this movie.

Honestly though, that was my only gripe with this movie. As I said at the beginning, overall I thought it was very good and highly reccomend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

—Movies I’ve seen this year (in no order)

Alien Covenant, It Comes At Night, Spiderman Homecoming, Dunkirk*, Passengers, The Founder*,  My Neighbor Totoro, Nocturnal Animals, The Incredible Jessica James*, Nina Simone documentary (DNF), Wonder Woman, The Big Sick*, Mother!*, Steven Spielberg documentary, Blade Runner 2049, Beyond The Black Rainbow, Jigsaw (I got to use MoviePass), Jim and Andy and the Great Beyond*, Lady Bird (MoviePass), Man on the Moon*, Get Out*

—Rewatched

Tarzan, Helvetica, Truth in 24, Catch Me If You Can, Minimalism, Chicago, Moonrise Kingdom, Wolf of Wall Street, James Bond movies, Mighty Ducks, Men In Black, The Matrix Reloaded, Hercules, Her, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Hocus Pocus, Nightmare Before Christmas, Rogue One, The Terminal

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Catching Up

Hey y’all, I writing to catch you up as to what I’ve been up to so far. As I mentioned in my previous post, a little over a month ago I moved back to New York. I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of things and hanging out with a lot of people and taking a lot of pictures, and yet, I’ve posted none of it.

I think because I’m now on a computer all day at work, the last thing I want to do when I get home is drain my eyes with more computer time. Not to say I haven’t been spending my fair share of free time on the computer, but, now that weather is consistently nice, I’ve been trying to take advantage of it.

What I have been doing, in lieu of writing digitally is to keep a physical, tangible journal. Ever since coming back from Japan, where I was writing what I did every day, it was a tough habit to break. I’m glad though because it lets me know what I did each day and, I feel keeps me productive.

Not everything I do every day or every weekend is interesting, but as I means of trying to trim the fat, I’m going to pull a few highlights from the last few weeks and make a digital copy of them here on HWS. I’m sure you’re waiting with baited breath. As usual, this is more for me than it is for you.

4/30/17 (Sun) test rode a bike at Van Moof

5/2/17 (Tue) dinner at Momofuku Noodles – pork buns and chocolate malted truffles

5/4/17 (Thurs) dinner at Black Flamingo

IMG_6973Discension art installation 5/6

5/5/17 (Fri) Alligator Lounge for karaoke

5/6/17 (Sat) New York Bike Expo + Discension art installation + housewarming party at co-workers apartment

5/10/17 (Wed) dinner with Jon Papp

IMG_6987Home Sweet Home 5/12

5/12/17 (Fri) New York Night Train at Home Sweet Home with co-worker

5/15/17 (Mon) dinner with Katie at Korean Place

5/17/17 (Wed) chilled with Guto, got drinks at Nostrand Pub, dollar pizza, went back to his apt, chilled on his roof

IMG_6997My studio as I moved in/organized my stuff 5/24

5/19/17 (Fri) Alien Covenant with Papp, chased the movie with drinks at Videology, went to Rebecca’s (bar) where we met up with Katie and Brandon, macked on some biddies

5/20/17 (Sat) IKEA adventure during the day, stoop life at night

5/21/17 (Sun) moved into apartment, went to Smorgasburg with co-workers

IMG_7019Hovercraft and other rich people toys at Hammacher Schlemmer 6/3

5/24/17 (Wed) movers came and I spent all day getting the apartment organized

5/27/17 (Sat) hair cut, biked through Prospect Park, chilled at Sam Cooper’s

5/28/17 (Sun) biked to Coney Island

IMG_7046Looking back on Manhattan from the Williamsburg Bridge 6/8

5/30/17 (Tue) got Brooklyn Library card

5/31/17 (Wed) chilled with Steve at my apt

6/2/17 (Fri) Mom came to visit, went to Eataly, found $5 on the sidewalk

IMG_8022Berry Park with co-workers on 6/9

6/3/17 (Sat) Brooklyn Bread Cafe, went to Ed Sullivan Theatre, Hammacher Schlemmer, CB2, Bellstaff, cut through Central Park, Zabars, walked to The MET (opera), dinner at Liz and Tim’s apartment

6/6/17 (Tue) got Manhattan Library card

6/8/17 (Thurs) biked to work, raced co-worker to Union Sq (her on foot + train, me on bike) from Queens and I won, watched movie for World Ocean day, got lost biking home and ended up at Katie/Dilila’s apt and chilled for a bit before heading home

IMG_7066Westfield World Trade Center mall on 6/10

6/9/17 (Fri) went to Berry Park (rooftop bar) with co-workers after work, went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see It Comes at Night

6/10/17 (Sat) biked across the Brooklyn Bridge to Fulton Center, went to the Westfield World Trade Center (mall), biked to the Fulton Market and saw Seaport Summer setup, checked out the 1 Hotel, 5-hour outing

From now on, anything that’s remotely interesting that I took pictures during but didn’t post to Instagram is going on here.

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What I’m Watching

None of this is new. I’m not saying I discovered any of this. However, as was the case with the previous post, after seeing it, I knew I had to reccomend these next shows.

Abstract: The Art of Design – Netflix

Unlike most people, I try my best not to “binge watch” shows on Netflix; I like spreading things out. I try to pretend that the shows are weekly series, giving myself a start day -Monday for example- and making that my ‘day to watch that show.’

Abstract, appeals to me for a few different reasons. The first being that I really enjoy documentary series. The next being that since I am a student of design, I really enjoy and appreciate art and design in all of it’s facets. When you see a piece of good design, regardless of the discipline, it sticks with you. Watching shows like this always motivates me to go out and create more art, more design, more… whatever.

Hip-Hop Evolution – Netflix

This next show sat in my queue for a long time. Not because I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it, but because I wanted to find someone to watch it with. Eventually, I could wait no longer and decided to just put it on.

Though I’ve only seen one of the four episodes in this mini-series/documentary, I already love it. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest hip-hop connoisseur. I like the genre, but it’s not my go to for music to listen to. That said, I love hip-hop culture. I love streetware, graffiti, break dancing, the lot.

One of my favorite documentaries, which I’ve mentioned before on this blog, is called Style Wars, a graffiti documentary from the ’80s. Something about that old school New York rawness is really appealing to me. So far, at least in this first part, that is the same sort of vibe I’ve gotten from Hip-Hop Evolution.

The Grand Tour – Amazon Prime

This may be the most mainstream of all my recommendations so far. For those that don’t know, The Grand Tour is essentially a rebranded version of the BBC’s Top Gear. I’ll admit that I thought it was a bit over the top in terms of silliness vs car reviews. But, it’s still great to see these three working together on a motoring program again.

Other recommendations/what I’ve watched lately:

Paris Is Burning – Netflix

I forget where I first heard about this but I was maybe a year ago. Finally, when searching for something to watch on “the flix,” I found it. Paris Is Burning is a documentary about the drag scene in New York in the late ’80s.

Suited – HBO

I feel like I stumbled upon this one too. Suited is a documentary about a tailor shop in New York that specializes in making suits for transgender and gender non-conforming men and women.

Dave Chappelle Stand Up Specials – Netflix

Chappell is undisputed one of the kings of comedy. Netflix just released two stand up routines from Dave. I’ve only seen the first one so far, and though I didn’t think it was as good as Killin’ Them Softly or For What It’s Worth, I did really like it. Especially towards the end.

Chappell is the master of embedding an idea or a theme in his routine that you are subconsciously aware of when you’re watching it. And then, at the end, like a magician revealing his secrets, he hits a crescendo and sticks the landing.

Big Little Lies – HBO

This show is a guilty pleasure. I saw the ads for it and figured that generally speaking HBO doesn’t steer me wrong. I didn’t want to like it, but since it’s one of these, starts at the end and works it’s way back type of series, I knew after watching the first episode that, like it or not, I had to keep watching. The show is basically a soap opera but each episode is better and more confusing and I need to find out how it ends!

Girls – HBO

I’ve been with Girls since day one, episode one. C’mon, it’s the final season, you gotta watch it.

Last Week Tonight – HBO

Always solid. Nuff said.

Coming Soon

Archer: Season 8 – FXX

Archer has sort of gone down hill since they did all of the Archer Vice crap (in my humble opinion). However, I do look forward to seeing more of this show regardless. Plus, noir Archer could be dope. Archer Dreamland premiers on April 5th.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Netflix

This reboot of the 1990s cult classic is set to star Jonah Ray in the role he was born to play. To be honest, I was never a huge fan of the original MST3K (my dad loved it and he got me into it), however I really like Jonah Ray and I’m interested to see how it goes. All episodes available April 14th.

Silicon Valley: Season 4 – HBO

Despite the fact that the series feels the need to inexplicably reinvent itself (as a means to add drama?) I’m looking forward to more ridiculousness and more of the Pied Piper crew. Season 4 premiers on April 23rd.

Master of None: Season 2 – Netflix

Returning for season 2 on May 12th, Master of None was one of my favorite Nexflix shows of 2015. I look forward to finally having more and seeing what happens with the characters I love.

Stranger Things: Season 2 – Netflix

This is no surprise. Stranger Things is a show that captured the imagination of… well… a lot of people. As we speak, I am going back and watching Season 1 as a means of prepping for Season 2. Also, I wanted an excuse to watch it again. All episodes of Season 2 will be available this Halloween.

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Be Happy With Less

The other day my co-workers told me about a documentary on Netflix about the principles of minimalism. Not the art style minimalism, although that may indirectly apply, but the concept as a way of living.

Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things is a film that follows two guys, “The Minimalists,” who travel the US spreading the gospel of a minimalist lifestyle. The principals and ideologies they preach are ones I myself have already been trying to adopt.

I realized years ago that the possessions I coveted didn’t bring me happiness. There was the initial transitory pleasure of having something new, and then an immediate drop off of happiness that made me feel depressed.

Since then, I have really done my best to try and not buy things I don’t need. I try and think really hard if it is something I will really use and if not, it probably won’t make my life any more meaningful.

The movie is, I’ll admit, a bit preachy at times. The guys can have a bit of “crunchy” Hippy vibe. All of this may make you roll your eyes, nonetheless, the message is no less poignant and helped to reaffirm my belief in this way of life.

Additional info:

Fight Club Monologue

Fight Club Dialogue

Jay Austin – tiny house designer

Life Edited – minimalist interior design

Additional reading:

Everything That Remains

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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2016 Top Five

Another year end review. What follows (after the Google – Year In Search 2016 video) is a list of my top five accomplishments in 2016. They are arranged in the order they took place.

I am going to try and do this every year (starting last year) as it is a good way to see what, if anything, I got done. It was suggested by Chris Hardwick on The Nerdist podcast, and I really like the concept.

Lastly, before I show the list, I sourced these from this very blog, since I really only choose to write about things that are important to me, so, hopefully I’m not forgetting anything.

1) Digitizing and editing the footage – back in 2012 I went to New York and shot a bunch of footage on my grandpa’s 8mm camera. I had been meaning to edit it for (literally) years, and finally, this year, I did that.

2) Moving Out – I had moving to New York on my 2015 accomplishments list but to be honest, that was a “fake” move. This year when I moved to Somerville, it was for real. In fact, I technically moved twice this year since I had to switch apartments after my roommate lost his job. Regardless, I am glad to no longer be living at my parents house; it’s about time.

3) Biking the Boston Marathon – this is another thing I had had on my “to do” list for a long time that I was finally able to check off. Biking 26.2 miles is really not that hard. It’s only about a 2 hour ride. However, it is the mere fact that I wanted to do it and now I can say that I did.

4) Facewords Podcast – as I say in the title of this blog post, making a podcast was a “scheme” come true. Though James and I have already stopped recording episodes, and I don’t know if we’ll ever record new ones, it was cool to say that I at least did it. There seems to be a reoccurring theme here of getting things done I’ve wanted to do for a while. Which leads to my final accomplishment…

5) Australia – I’d wanted to visit this country for as long as I can remember and now I can finally say I have.

Despite the fact that I checked a few things off a list, clearly I’m pulling at hairs here because none of these “accomplishments” are really that noteworthy. I guess all in all, 2016 was a pretty “meh” year.

In conclusion, fuck 2016.

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Christmas Presents 2016

As usual, here is my annual post telling you what I got for Christmas. Things were a bit more low key this year, but I am still very happy with how the day went, all the people I got to see and the gifts that I received. I try to ask for things I need rather than things I want. I hate clutter so the less excess stuff I have, the better.

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Starting from the left (btw, this is a pano, so that’s why some things look jankey):

1. Burton Wheelie Flight Deck suitcase – I have been coveting a Burton suitcase since April/May of 2015. When my fam came to visit me in NY for the Sox/Yankees game, we stopped by the Burton flagship store in Soho. I saw a really nice suitcase I wanted but didn’t need for ~$220. It has been in my subconscious ever since. Though I still technically didn’t/don’t need a new suitcase (my current one works perfectly fine and has served me well for YEARS), the big baby in me likes getting new things and since I have a vaca planned for the spring, I thought it would be cool to have a new one

2. Boxer shorts – something that it’s always good to have more of  but that I hate buying for myself

3. Cowboy Beebop: The Complete Series (Blu ray) – I have been a fan of Beebop (pictured below the boxer shorts) since my junior year of college. Since I no longer watch cable, I never get to catch it on TV. I got a craving for the show the other day and thought, let me put it on my xmas list. Since I currently don’t have a show to watch (my free trial of Amazon Prime ran out so I no longer can watch Top Gear er, I mean The Grand Tour) I will rewatch this

4. Lint roller – I have no idea why my mom got this for me. I never asked for one and don’t really need it but I’ll just bring it to work and spread the wealth

5. Austin Powers 3 Film Collection (DVD)– up until now I only owned AP 1 and 2 on VHS and 3 was on DVD. Well now I finally have them all on a relevant (sort of) format. We had all gotten a hankering to watch them when doing our Bond marathon, so now I/we finally can.

6. Floss things – these little “needles” help to thread floss through my permanent retainer (now you know I have one). I hate buying them because they’re expensive (for what they are) and you don’t get a lot in each pack. So, these packs (I got two) should keep me all set for a while

7. Assorted snacks – popcorn, Milky Way, Ghirardelli, Reese’s Pieces

8. Grooming kit – nail clippers and such; despite the fact that I already have one, this second one will allow me to keep one in my suitcase at all times and avoid forgetting to bring these things when I go on vacation

9. Pajama Pants – I need another pair of PJ pants like I need a hole in the head, but it’s still good to have. Plus, maybe I can keep a pair at my parents house so I don’t have to bring any when I spend the night there

10. Plain White/Black Shirts – always good to have more of these

11. Darth Vader Boxer Shorts – these came in a rubber/plastic Vader helmet which is what you see in the picture. The helmet is displayed on the top of my bookcase

12. Scratch ticket – I won $5; still need to cash it in

13. Assorted Gift Cards – Urban Outfitters (earmarked for pants), Dunkin’ Donuts (2), Stop and Shop

14. Daft Punk Discovery on vinyl – every time I go into Newbury Comics I look at this album, pick it up, hold it and think, “someday you will be mine.” Then I put it back down and never buy it. Now I don’t have to. Discovery is one of the best albums ever made. It is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Daft Punk’s career. Like Rumors for Fleetwood Mack or IV for Led Zeppelin, not only is basically every song a hit, but everything about it is timeless.

15. 45 RPM adaptor – this plastic insert was not really one of my gifts, but a spare part from one of my parents gifts; they got a new record player

16. Cheese Cutter – now I can really cut the cheese. (Obligatory stupid joke over). Despite the fact that I do have a cheese knife, this has always been my preferred method for slicing cheese so it’s nice to have one in my life again

Not pictured:

1. $20 from my Auntie Jeanne

2. $50 from my Grandpa

So, if you’re looking for someone to mug this season, I’m your guy. My wallet has exactly $70 in it; 70 times more money than it usually has!

As always, I do this not to brag and not out of vanity, but so that I can organizationally remember what I got and (hopefully) put it all to good use over the years to come.

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Future World

Tesla Enhanced Autopilot

Yesterday, Tesla announced the latest update available to their vehicles; Enhanced Autopilot. This is by far the biggest leap any car company has ever taken in the race for a fully autonomous (self driving) vehicle. To get a true understanding of what I mean, click the link above or, better yet, watch the video below.

Pretty crazy right? When I first started with Tesla in November of last year, Autosteer and Auto lane-change, along with the ability to self parallel park were, I believe, just being introduced. Later, in early 2016, the company introduced self perpendicular parking and the “Summon” feature which allows the car to come in and out of your garage or driveway all by itself.

Look at how much Autopilot has advanced from October 2015 to October 2016. In one year we went from Autosteer to Full Self Driving. Think about how refined it will be by the time the Model III comes out! This gives me hope that a very polished version of Enhanced Autopilot will be available by the time I take delivery of my Model III.

When I first heard mention that Musk wanted cars to be able to have self driving features, I thought it was cool but expected it to be years down the road. Little did I realize that perhaps as soon as early 2017, barring any regulations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we will see cars driving around parking lots looking for places to park all by themselves! Clearly, we are living in the future.

Westworld

For those of you who haven’t been watching, I highly reccomend you check out the new HBO Original Series Westworld. Based on the 1973 film of the same name, Westworld is a show rich in detail and shining in all categories. From writing, to cinematography, to acting, to costume design, every facet of the show is on point.

It reminds me of many things, The Matrix, virtual reality, a video game, and more that I’m forgetting but will come back to when I think of it. It brings up interesting topics touched upon in such films as Blade Runner which asks questions about humanity and what it means to actually be human.

The story so far is only three episodes deep but it is already layered in storylines and subplots. From the business side of Westworld and what is involved in keeping it from falling apart, to the hosts and how they interact with each other as well as guests in their daily lives, to the insidious and mysterious “Gunslinger,” to the hosts’ slow discovery of what they truly are and much more, the layers are deep and many.

On top of all this, the world building extends to our world. Just as was done with Jurassic World where they made a website for that “theme park,” HBO has not only made a website for Westworld the destination, they also made a website for Delos Incorporated, the company that created the “theme park.” It’s all pretty cool and makes everything feel that much more real.

Do yourself a favor and explore every facet of the “theme park website.” There are some cool easter eggs if you dig deep enough. Additionally, the most interesting part of the corporate site is the Corp Resources page. There, you will find two cool articles that show you how the corporate facility is laid out and how the “narrative loops” work for the “hosts” of Westworld.

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