Monthly Archives: March 2017

Spring Break

It’s almost spring, which means I’m about to take off in search of life-changing adventures, exciting new horizons, and decadent desserts.

Mainly decadent desserts.

So this will be my last posting until sometime shortly after April Fools’ Day.

Back in a couple of weeks!

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Very Early Early Man Teaser Trailer

This one’s a long way off—it won’t be released until 2018.

But Early Man is from Aardman, the people responsible for Chicken Run and the adventures of Wallace and Gromit, and the voice actors include Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Richard Ayoade, so here it is.

It’s good to have something with grace and charm to look forward to during the current unpleasantness.

American Gods — First Official Trailer

Finally!

Starz has released the first official trailer for the long-awaited series based on Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, American Gods. The book, which won the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Locus awards, is generally considered one of the best efforts by Gaiman, author of Stardust, Neverwhere, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and dozens of other works in a variety of media.

The series starts on 30 April 2017.


Tragic Heroes Villains

For me, Bryan Cranston will always be Walter Hartwell White, Ian Richardson will always be Francis Urquhart, Margaret Hamilton will always be the Wicked Witch of the West, and Ian McShane will always be Al Swearengen.

After all these years. I’m still pissed off about the missing fourth season of the classic Deadwood.

First Hatchling!

One of the two eggs in the eagles’ nest at the National Arboretum in Washington has hatched. The eaglet’s emergence was captured by the American Eagle Foundation’s DC Eagle Cam, and you can watch it in the above video. Live video of the nest and several still photos from the hatching are on the DC Eagle Cam website.

Stay tuned! The second egg is expected to hatch sometime in the next week.

The First Lady Has Laid an Egg — Watch the Incubation on Live WebCam

Yes, I admit that headline is pure clickbait. If you’re reading this, I guess it worked.

“The First Lady” is the name of the female member of a pair of Bald Eagles who started nesting  at the U.S. National Arboretum here in Washington back in 2014. The male is named “Mr. President”. Last year, the couple produced two hatchlings, named “Freedom” and “Liberty”.

(Could all those names be anymore bland and pedestrian? Whoever’s in charge of naming eagles at the arboretum is obviously not a big fan of unconventional nomenclature. Just writing those words has made me grouchy and irritated. Come to think about it, even “Grouchy” and “Irritated” would be better names than the ones they have now.)

Anyhow, the pair is back, and the eagles have landed. And once again, they’ve produced two eggs, the first on 19 February 2017 and the second on 23 February 2017. Hatching generally occurs after a 35 – 38 day incubation.

Thanks to the American Eagle Foundation, you can watch the whole thing 24/7 on the DC Eagle Cam. The beautiful picture at the top of this posting, showing an eagle keeping her eggs warm in the snow-filled nest, comes from a screenshot of the webcam.


Warning: This is nature, and it’s live, which means that while it can sometimes be sublime, it can also sometimes be brutal and ugly. There are predators out there.

Happy Anniversary, Buffy!

It was 20 years ago today, as the old song goes, that the first episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was televised on the long-gone and much-missed WB network. The show, based on a moderately successful but mediocre movie, survived an uneven first season (i.e. some of the first season episodes are really, really pathetic) to become one of the great pre-Golden Age television programs.

Or maybe, as Lucy Mangan wrote in The Guardian today,

The Sopranos is generally held up as the inflection point for television-as-art – the moment the medium matured and had to start being taken seriously. But Buffy was there first and doing extraordinary things before the conflicted Mafiosi hit the screen…”

—from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 20: the thrilling, brilliant birth of TV as art”*

The Scooby Gang, and friends.  And foes.

A personal story.

Back in 2002, I became seriously ill with what’s now called COPD. I went to my doctor on the morning of 12 November, and she immediately sent me to the ER at Washington Hospital Center. I didn’t get a room until a few minutes after 8 PM, but there was a silver lining, because once I had access to a TV set, I was able to catch most of that night’s episode of Buffy.**

I was hospitalized for three weeks, and instructed to recuperate at home for more than six weeks after that. During the entire time, my wonderful mother–who had turned 80 on the day I was admitted to the hospital–called me at least twice a day, just to make sure I was all right. The only time that was off-limits for phone calls was Tuesday night, between 8 and 9 PM, when Buffy was on TV.

So, yeah. I guess you could say I’ve always been a fan.


Bonus Feature

In this fan re-mix, Buffy takes on the most horrible vampire of all, with predictable results.


Another Bonus Feature

Here’s the original, never-aired pilot episode for Buffy, with a different Willow and a much sillier tone.


*The entire article, and the related stories on The Guardian site, are worth reading.
**It was a great episode, too! “Conversations with Dead People”.

Samurai, and the Beauty of Japan (But with a Footnote)

This stunning video is a promotion piece for the “Diamond Route Japan”, which seems to be a railway line serving the Fukushima, Tochigi, and Ibaraki prefectures. It has the rather clumsy title Diamond Route Japan: History. Discover the Living Samurai Spirit, but, with no spoken narration, only texts and images, it succeeds brilliantly in making the viewer want to Be There Now.

Here’s another video from the campaign called The Ultimate Japan Experience. It uses some of the same drone shots, but there’s a lot more to see.

The downside, of course, is that Fukushima is the site of the nuclear meltdown that followed the 2011 tsunami, and even six years later, the clean-up has no end in sight. Not a great inducement for tourism.