Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Star Wars: Rogue One -- Fighting Evil, Hoping for the Impossible, and The Dirty Dozen

Photo: Star Wars: Rogue One poster, from this IMDB.com page

If you've seen the original Star Wars--known as Episode IV: A New Hope, now that there's a canon--you've probably wondered what that woman meant when she said, and I paraphrase here: "We've had to pay dearly to get this information. Very dearly." She was talking about how the Rebellion got the plans for the Death Star that showed where the weakness was--a purposeful weakness, it turns out. (I'd always thought it was just a mistake in design. You know, just kind of there. Some smart engineer in the Rebellion would see that, and think, Hey, if we hit that, it'll cause a chain reaction that will destroy the whole damn thing! I mean, for a purposeful weakness, the original Death Star engineer made it kind of hard to hit, right? Remember the difficulty and failures at the end of the 1977 film?) Anyway, this is the weakness that Luke Skywalker hits in 1977, after putting the machinery away and just using the Force. Incidentally, this is a strategy I recommend for those who think they need rear cameras and cars that just stop themselves. In this world, we call it focusing and paying attention. And perhaps a little intuition.

But I digress. At any rate, if you've been wondering what that statement meant in the original film--Well, here's your answer. Remembering that line (or my good-enough paraphrase of it) and using a little common sense, I was able to figure out the destiny of the main characters while watching the movie. That made it all a little weird for me (as was the final moment, when we see Carrie Fisher's 1977 face at the very end, and then my friend leans over while the credits are running and shows me that Carrie Fisher had died; very, very disturbing), and I hoped I was wrong. You will, too, because Felicity Jones does such a great job with her character that you'll hope for the impossible.

Photo: Felicity Jones and Diego Luna from Rogue One

Which is a nice segue for the point of this movie: Hoping for the impossible. And using that hope to fight back and make change. That's a nice idea--taken to extreme lengths in a recent article from a major magazine (forgot which one, but I read it) that said it perfectly mirrored what some of us feel about the next regime coming in, and I use that word purposely. But I disagree with that article. No Star Wars movie has ever been very political, even after Reagan named his space defense system plan after it. (And after the Red Sox brass referred to Steinbrenner and the Yankees as "The Evil Empire.") The Star Wars universe has always been overtly un-political and very fantastic. It's not meant to refer to our present day, or our history. (Though it's not too far wrong to see the Empire and the Stormtroopers as Hitler's Nazis and the SS Troops. You can't tell me that the baggy pants and Peter Cushing's Nazi-like stance in 1977 were happy coincidences.) But Rogue One is not a political movie, exactly, much like the original trilogy wasn't. Its point--like the point in The Hunger Games, and many other Dystopian epics, and in other fare like The Lord of the Rings--is that when true evil rears its ugly head, you fight it. And when true evil gets a weapon as powerful as the Death Star (or a little gold ring), then you destroy that weapon. By doing so, you're helping to destroy that evil. It's really that simple. That message, more than any other, is what this film is about. (May we never see the day we have to act upon it.) To do so, you need a ridiculous amount of hope, because by definition, the good guys are in the minority, and they face overwhelming odds. Much like two hobbits scaling the landscape, and a volcano, to destroy a weapon that is sought by immense evil.

It is in this vein that Rogue One was made. It is essentially a WWII-type action movie, and in fact becomes a little too Dirty Dozen for me at the end. But it does so in a good way, the point being that the destruction of this evil weapon, and fighting against this evil, is more important than any one person's life. Or several persons' lives, for that matter. And so this is a war movie that essentially moves from the (often perplexing) set-up, to the present evil, to the battle scenes in that war. All of this happens with the incredibly beautiful special effects you'd expect, from a director you've already seen them from before. (He directed the very good Godzilla reboot.)

Though a very good movie, it is far from perfect. It's too long, at 2 1/2 hours or so. You may wonder, as I did, why Forest Whitaker's character had to be there. Some very good characters are given a lot of life, a lot of very solid character-building traits, for an ending you may, or may not, grow to love. (But, like me, you probably see it coming. Remember the "great sacrifice" that the Rebellion had to "pay dearly" for to get the plans.) You may find the ending to be a bummer. The beginning is rather confusing, as it jumps all over the place and introduces you to a great many characters. (Yes, Vader does show up. And he's got a real nice, kick-ass montage near the end. But though he's got James Earl Jones's voice again, you may notice as I did that his build, and his armor and mask, seem less.) Also, Felicity Jones looked a little to me like Daisy Ridley for awhile, until I remembered that Ridley's in Episode VIII and Rogue One is maybe Episode III and 3/4. That took a little while for me to wrap my head around, not to mention that I got there five minutes before the movie started, so my friend and I were forced to sit in seats a little too close to the screen. I didn't get neck strain, but I thought I would.

But hang in there. Will a borderline fan of the series, or a non-fan, enjoy it? I think so, but I'm not sure. The soap opera is gone, as are most of the marketing, and marketable, characters. I'll give a tentative yes for the borderline or the non-series fan. This movie is worth seeing, and it really picks up the pace, the tension, and the relevance. You get the feeling that something really important is going on, much like the way I felt watching the end of the (otherwise unnecessary) last Lord of the Rings film. Evil must be fought. Planet-killing weapons must be themselves destroyed. (And, if you're LucasFilm and Disney, money must be made.) 

Someone's got to stand up. These folks do. Would you? Would I? If we're not appreciated, or even remembered, does that matter? This film makes you wonder those things. Hopefully we never have to find out. Turns out, these folks are not mentioned, and therefore not remembered, in the series that comes. Without Spielberg's movie, would Oskar Schindler be as well-known? Undoubtedly there are hundreds, if not thousands, of real-life heroes throughout time who have saved dozens, if not hundreds, of lives--all themselves lost to history. Does that matter? The righting of wrongs, the fighting of evil, the destroying of too-powerful weapons in the hands of devils and lunatics--all are more important. May we all remember this, and act upon it, if that time should ever come. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Photo: From a Xmas card given to me this year by a co-worker. (Sorta looks like another co-worker.)

Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas. Thanks to all my readers--We broke 100,000 pageviews today! I'm honored that so many wanted to click on something I wrote, even if it was my better half 100,000 times. (Just kidding. I started the blog long before I knew her.)

Thanks also to those who read yesterday's blog (Skip to the last sentence if you read about this yesterday) about helping a man who was hit, with his two dogs, by a speeding car. One dog just came back yesterday, after being missing a week! The other one is alive, but in need of an operation to either fix his leg or to amputate it. The operation will cost $7,500, and there's a GoFundMe page set up here:

I know it's a financially strapped time of year, but please do what you can for Angus, a really cute-looking dog. Here he is:

The one who returned yesterday is going to need a little TLC as well, so anything you can do for these local dogs would be appreciated. (Some have given $5, which is still great.) Out of the $7,500 needed, $2,490 has been raised. Every penny or dollar helps.

And that's it! Have a great and safe holiday! May Santa be good to you, every single year.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Missing Local Dog Goes Home on Christmas Eve. GoFundMe Link Below.

A heartwarming holiday story:

A week ago, a local guy is out walking his dogs when a kid, driving with a suspended license and without insurance, and who is speeding down the road, loses control of his car and hits the guy and his two dogs. The guy is injured, but one of his dogs is hurt badly in one leg. It needs surgery to either repair the leg, or amputate it. Cost: $7,500.  Please go to the doggie's GoFundMe page here.

Here's a pic of that poor guy, named Angus:

The other dog panics and runs off, and a week later is still missing. (Read the original news story here.) But the dog was returned to the guy today, on Christmas Eve. Cynic that I am, I told someone it wasn't a coincidence that the dog was returned once a reward was offered. Turns out, it was. A little girl living close by saw the dog on her porch, all wet, but alive. Soon the dog was reunited with its owner, limping slightly, but happy. (Read that news story here.) Here's a pic of Kacy:

Both doggie pics are from their GoFundMe page. If you'd like to donate (every penny or dollar helps), please go to this address, which is linked above and here: https://www.gofundme.com/help-us-take-care-of-angus 

And so what better way to say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and, ummm...Blissful Days Regardless of Your Religion? Have a good one, folks, and, as always, thanks for reading.

[Please post the GoFundMe address to your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc. and pass the story along so others can help. As of this writing, $1,795 has been raised. I know it's a financially challenging time of year, but please do what you can, even if it's just spreading the word along. Thanks!] 

And, oh yeah, as a tip of the hat to the boss around here, a pic of my better half's peanut butter pie, with whip cream, Reese's chunks, and Oreo crust, that she made for Xmas Eve. Though I'm allergic to peanuts, I had a bite, because you cannot live your life in fear. Plus, look at it. How can't you have one?

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Witches: Salem, 1692 -- How A Society Can Go Mad, Then and Now

Photo: from google.com/books, at this address.

Incredibly thorough, this book seems somehow meticulous and yet all over the place at the same time. I mean that in a good way, though I could maybe understand those reviews I've read that appreciated that less than I did. I'm a guy whose thoughts are kinda all over the place anyway, yet I somehow manage to reel it all in and be very productive on most days (not lately, with a long-lasting sinus infection and head cold combination happening), and hopefully averagely productive on my worst.

This book is like that: it tells the whole Salem story, from every possible viewpoint, in a very omniscient POV that considers the victims, the accusers, the judges, the politicians who let it all happen, the social milieu, and the background history--often all in the same page or two. It never spins out of control, though a few times it may look like it's about to. It's written in a cyclone fashion, its winds reaching far, and like that storm it pulls it all together memorably.

And memorable this is. Its author, Stacy Schiff--a Pulitzer-Prize winner--clearly intended this to read like it does. It's almost Umberto Eco-like, except he really does spin out of control, especially after The Name of the Rose. And those who don't enjoy his ride will find his latest novels impossible to read. (I can read The Name of the Rose straight through, but it's mentally taxing, and his other books are just taxing, like James Joyce at his most internal.) Anyway, Schiff writes here in that whirlwind fashion, yet even the all-encompassing winds have everything under a microscope.

So though it's far-reaching, it's still concise and very readable. Its short asides or tangents exist to show the human side of the hysteria and tragedy. One passage, about a teenage girl, tracked down at her grandmother's house in another town, is chased by men with sticks and dogs. She gets away for awhile, but what must that have been like? Schiff offers the image, and imagines how it felt.

That's what I really took away from this. You get the facts, as you would expect to. You may know, for example, that Arthur Miller's The Crucible strayed a bit from the cold truth. John Proctor, for example, was not anything like Daniel Day-Lewis, even with bad teeth. In history, he was a plain-talking tavern owner in his 60s. He did not have a battle with his conscience; a great percentage of those who hanged did so pleading their ignorance for the entirety of their captivity. Those who "confessed" never saw jail time to begin with--except for one, who did hang anyway. That was George Burroughs, the town's former minister, and an extremely strong man who survived Indian massacres in Maine--and who was apparently despised for that, close and afar. His hanging is perhaps the book's, and Salem's, biggest mystery.

But you get the personal sides and the surrounding history. Indian attacks were common and a constant fear--to the point of hysteria. If that wasn't bad enough, you had catastrophic winters, rampant disease, socio-economic chasms (lots of homeless women and indentured servants, who were routinely raped and/or beaten), extreme gender bias (being an outspoken woman was not wise), a stifling belief system, and a theocracy that epitomizes the necessity for the Separation of Church and State that this country even now so often ignores and forgets.

You get it all. Because don't you want to understand why it happened? This is Nazism in a microcosm, right here in New England. In short, at first, if you were different, you were screwed. If you were a social undesirable, you were accused. Then, if you were in a position of economic power, like Rebecca Nurse and her family, you were accused. Predictably, it didn't stop until family members of the judges and politicians (especially Governor Phip's wife) were accused. How can Harvard-educated men, the wisest and the smartest in the country, take part in this, and allow it to happen? Well, here's how.

And it can happen again. Just take a town (or a country?) at social war with itself, and throw it a bone, and watch it all happen. There were dissenters, sure--until they were immediately accused and thrown in jail. That, predictably, shut them up real fast. The threat of that then quickly shut up potential dissenters, until finally nobody (besides a few untouchables in Boston, so close yet so far away) spoke up. It doesn't take much of an imagination to see this happening on a large scale.

Let's just hope it doesn't.

But here is how a community can go mad. And it's not from any one thing, but from a perfect storm of the worst elements of human nature: religious fundamentalism, ignorance, intolerance, e theocratic government, greed, jealousy, a male-dominated society, a conviction of belief over intelligence and common sense--even from the most educated men of their time. In a world where belief trumps knowledge (See what I did there?), where disinformation and misinformation is gospel, where belief in what you can't prove trumps what can be proven (I did it again.)--Well, how can disaster and chaos NOT happen?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Foods Good for Kidney, Gut, Colon and Anti-Inflammatory Health


I spent a few hours today researching healthy foods for kidney, gut, colon and inflammation health, for reasons that you'd rather me not tell you about, believe me. Suffice it to say that I've had it, and there will be major changes in my food intake around here. (I'm a pretty decent eater to begin with, and weigh between 145-150 pounds, and am about 5'6".) I've had too much bread (especially bagels) and not enough water and, well, the other things listed here. I've drastically cut my chocolate and coffee intake because of the caffeine and acid, and I've never been a huge consumer of alcohol (outside of the once-a-week drink, or a beer or two at ballgames), so that's good. But even after just one or two beers, my digestive system lets me know I've been bad. Wine does that, too. Overall, my digestive system sucks, my immune system sucks, my sinuses suck, and I've had really bad inflammation for the last few months, especially in my sinuses, even after my drastic (and I do mean drastic) coffee reduction. (I'm allergic to other things, like my dog, and probably my work building, that I can't do much about.)

Some of these things, like nuts and seeds, I'll still have to stay away from. I'm allergic to nuts, and when seeds get into my intestinal tract, very bad things happen. I also didn't list any dairy, breads or grains because I'm intolerant of those (and a great many other daily) things. I should also point out that water and meditation are good anti-inflammatories as well. We should all have more.

So if you suffer from the same problems, I offer you my hours' worth of research, for free. Items followed by a (?) are things I'm not at all familiar with, so please comment if you are familiar with these things. And, yes, I know it's the holiday food season, but you do what you can. 

Incidentally, I tried to make 2 or 3 columns out of this, and couldn't do it for this blog (though I did for my own personal printouts). So if you can tell me how to do that, please drop me a comment. Please and thank you.

          SMOOTHIES (?) Can anyone supply me with ideas for a lactose-free smoothie?
                            SWEET POTATOES
                                      PICKLES (Not olives, too?)
                                        BAKED POTATOES
                                              BROWN RICE
                                                ALOE VERA (?) This isn't just a hand lotion?
                                                    KOMBUCHA (?) I thought liquids ending with -bucha meant "alcohol."
                                                          MISO SOUP
                                                                SOURDOUGH BREAD
                                                                  TEMPEH (?) Never saw this word before in my life.
                                                                    MISO PASTE
                                                                      NON-SUGARY OATMEAL (?) Can anyone advise me about, well, non-oat oatmeal?
                                                                          CULTURED NON-DAIRY MILK
                                                                            FISH SAUCE
                                                                                    GREEN TEA
                                                                                        OLIVE OIL
                                                                                                AMARANTH BISCUITS (?)

                                                                                                Friday, December 2, 2016

                                                                                                Support Kellogg's and Fight the Bully

                                                                                                Photo: Eleven, of Stranger Things, from yahoo.com/tv

                                                                                                If you're completely unfamiliar with the situation, first read this article by clicking here.

                                                                                                In a surprising move this week, Kellogg's pulled its advertising dollars from the website of Breitbart News. Many other companies have since followed suit. Breitbart is the ultra-right wing, conservative site that calls itself a "news organization." It's not. It publishes opinion, not fact, and it only publishes one type of opinion, rather than many. News organizations, of course, publish the news, which always involves facts. It also publishes all types of news, not just the type that pushes its own propaganda. The founder of Breitbart, Stephen Bannon, is essentially the man behind the strategy that won Trump the White House, and is destined to be someone of importance in Trump's machine. Think of Bannon as you will, but you can't deny that he has his own super-conservative right-wing agenda, which even Trump at times doesn't agree with.


                                                                                                The main idea of this post is to point out that, for whatever reason, Kellogg's pulled the plug on its advertising dollars on the website, which is more of a blog than a "news source." This is not unusual, as companies frequently pull its advertising from places that they feel don't (or won't) generate as much income, or reach a particular consumer group. Kellogg's insists that the withdrawal is not political, and I'm inclined to believe that. After all, one doesn't advertise on Breitbart to begin with unless one wants to reach white, super-conservative, right-wing readers. This was the case before Trump, and it's certainly the case now. If the withdrawal was political, the ads would never have been there in the first place. And since the site has generated more hits since election day, it makes sense that the company would've kept its ads there.

                                                                                                So what's the reason?

                                                                                                In an article you can read at this link, the point was raised that companies can reach Breitbart's type of readership more effectively via other avenues, such as any website of Glenn Beck's. But the main reason Kellogg's and other companies pulled the plug is because they may not have known that their ads were on the site to begin with. Apparently, ads that we see on the left and right of the screen online are not put there by those companies. They're placed by yet another company that gets paid to put ads on websites where they'll be seen. Since Breitbart's readership has grown, those companies put the ads of Kellogg's and other companies on that website. Some companies, like Kellogg's, and now like Vanguard, 3M and AARP, apparently didn't want to spend their ad dollars there, or they didn't want to reach the readers Breitbart's caters to, or, as Kellogg's said, because Breitbart's "didn't align with their values."

                                                                                                Fair enough. Happens all the time. From the linked article:

                                                                                                While Breitbart is billing Kellogg’s decision as “bigoted and anti-American,” it’s a well-established American business practice for corporations to shift their sponsorship to companies they believe will help bolster their brand. In the case of reaching conservative audiences, advertisers that exit Breitbart aren’t necessarily snubbing those consumers because other conservative-leaning outlets, such as Fox News or Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, have an overlap. 
                                                                                                “There are a lot of places advertisers can go to reach the same audience, and even maybe a bigger audience,” Wilkins said.
                                                                                                Hell, I've lost a few blog followers over the years because they may not have liked the thoughts I've espoused here. Whatever. To each his own. If I made money from this blog by putting ads on it (I've been offered many times, but I don't), that would hurt a bit because companies gauge a blog's hits and its numbers of followers when they decide what to advertise on. Blogger, in fact, may place some ads for companies that pay them to do so. If not, another company gets paid to do that, and they in turn probably give a cut to Blogger, since Blogger has an icon that I could insert into this blog which would run the ads that would generate money for me. After that, I get lost.

                                                                                                A Vanguard spokesperson maybe explains it better:

                                                                                                Vanguard said it removed its ads as soon as it became aware that they were running on Breitbart. “As a policy, Vanguard does not advertise on any overtly political websites, including the site in question,” a spokeswoman wrote in an email. She said the ads appeared as part of a “remarketing” program, which are ads that appear to clients and investors when they visit third-party websites because of their browsing history. 
                                                                                                “Our remarketing advertisements are limited to pre-approved sites (again, no political sites), however it was brought to our attention last week that this site was inadvertently included,” she said.
                                                                                                So the shocking thing here isn't that Kellogg's pulled its ads. The surprising thing is that Breitbart has pushed a boycott on Kellogg's for doing so. That's nuts! That's like me trolling the followers who have left the blog over the years. Won't do that. That's like a newspaper publishing an article against a company that decides not to put ads in that newspaper anymore. Wait--actually, it's not, because a newspaper actually is a news organization that publishes news and facts, and news and facts of different types, like local news, national news, world news, sports, money and finance, etc. Breitbart, which calls itself a "news organization," doesn't do that.

                                                                                                Instead, like Trump did, it declares war and attacks those people and businesses they feel have slighted or threatened it.

                                                                                                This is frightening for many reasons. As the linked article said:

                                                                                                Breitbart’s campaign against Kellogg’s is unusual on a number of fronts, not in the least because news organizations traditionally maintain a separation between their business operations and their editors and reporters so that journalists can operate independently from business interests... And whether the boycott will help Breitbart financially appears questionable, given that attacking a major advertiser isn’t likely to make the site more appealing to other brands. 

                                                                                                “Reporters don’t behave that way in the U.S., nor should they,” said Lee Wilkins, professor and chair of the department of communications at Wayne State University, who’s an expert in media ethics. “Most journalistic organizations have checks between the people who pay for your news work and the news work itself, so that you are as a journalist protected from those influences.”  She said she views Breitbart as a blog rather than a journalistic organization. “If you aren’t a journalism organization, then those safeguards are never in place.”
                                                                                                This is an important distinction. A "news source," which Breitbart isn't, cannot influence its news reporters about what news to print. It can't be seen as a bully to its own reporters, thereby creating a bias about what gets reported and what doesn't. But Breitbart can do that, as it is, solely because it's not a legit news source, but rather more of an opinionated blog. But a business of any kind can't declare war on another business because that company pulls its ads.
                                                                                                It's not personal. It's business. This is yet another example that shows that Breitbart, Bannon and Trump don't get that distinction. Politics and business are not personal. You can't bully and attack those who disagree with you or who don't support you. That's a tyrannical thing to do. In America, we don't bully or declare war on our political enemies, and we do not suppress the news, or only report one type of news story. That's not what a democracy does.
                                                                                                So, in the spirit of democracy, to fight back against the bullies, I suggest that next time you want some cereal, or some breakfast food, buy Kellogg's. Let's support the first company that in a democratic fashion pulled its ads from a very un-democratic site. Let's support the first one brave enough to take a stance.
                                                                                                My better half has Kellogg's Eggo's for breakfast a few times a week, and Eleven loves them. Good stuff.

                                                                                                Wednesday, November 30, 2016

                                                                                                Seeing the Light -- Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbo

                                                                                                I read this in just a few hours today, the day after Thanksgiving--fitting, given what the book's about. I'm happy to say that this book also is maybe the first of Jo Nesbo's books that I haven't been at least a little chagrined with. It's also in 1st person, but it doesn't cop-out like his latest non-Harry Hole, Blood on Snow. That one had a short chapter at the end that was in 3rd person, after the whole book previously had been in 1st person. This one doesn't cheat like that, and is told in 1st person the whole way.

                                                                                                Nesbo plays with his following here, as he knows he's known as a writer who writes about potentially bad men who try to be good, and it doesn't work out for them. (See: Blood on Snow.) This one almost has the same set-up, but the big difference here is that the fixer here never fixes anybody, even at the end, when he really needs to. Well, then he does, but that's okay. And this guy--who calls himself Ulf--had even stolen all that money to pay for a little girl's cancer treatments. Nesbo goes out of his way here--perhaps a bit too much--to show us that this guy is a good guy. He is that, perhaps a bit unrealistically.

                                                                                                Speaking of that, this is yet another book in which the main character falls head over heels for a younger woman with a young child and no husband. While this occasionally happens in real life, what doesn't normally happen (or, shouldn't) is that said woman puts herself and her child in danger by helping out said main male character. We've all heard of stories in which a parent sadly chooses bad man over her own child, but even in real life, it doesn't happen like this. Stephen King has had a mini-genre doing this--See: Bag of Bones--but it's beginning to get to me a little bit. The female character always says she can't be with the guy or help the guy because she has to think of her kid first, and then she does it anyway! Now if the said character were a bit scattered to begin with, this may be a bit easier to swallow, but most of these female characters--including the one here--is so straight-laced and responsible that it comes across as unrealistic. It does so here, for me, anyway. It doesn't detract from the reading, but it made me roll my eyes a bit. I mean, we all understand the pipe dream, and it seems to effect writers when they hit 45 or so, but, come on...These woman, of course, also profess their love for these shadowy guys. In this case, she literally throws herself at him. Hey, you take your ego trip, I'll take mine, I guess, but, jeez...

                                                                                                But I digress. Obviously this was a good read, as I began and finished it's almost-300 pages in a few hours. There's a bit of philosophical and religious pondering here, which has slipped into Nesbo's work lately, and the narrator again seems to know a little bit more about--in this case--William Blackstone (who founded Blackstone, Massachusetts, which is a lot closer to my neck of the woods than it is to Nesbo's Oslo), Kierkegaard, and other blokes that, I'm guessing, your typical Norwegian fixer wouldn't ordinarily know. This speaks more of Nesbo, I think, than it does his characters, and it may be time now for him to look at that. I've got a philosophy degree, so I certainly appreciate that he tries to go there, but, really, how many fixers who say they don't know anything about anything will actually know this stuff?

                                                                                                But I digress, again. Sorry. The fact is that this is pretty entertaining stuff, even if you wonder why the woman, in a town of about 50, lets herself be seen with this guy, alone in her house, driving with him...and, yeah, she runs into her sort-of brother-in-law after a 45-minute drive to Alta, a bigger city, which is sort of like me running into one of my exes when I go to Fenway. Not yet. And they run into a woman he'd just been with--on the same drive! But it works, somehow. There are a few oddly amusing passages where you'd least expect them--this happened in Blood on Snow, too--though here they seem more purposely out of left field, like we're given permission to know that it won't all end up like the previous, very similar novel and 1st person narrator.

                                                                                                It doesn't, and you'll probably be able to see how it's all going to come together before it does, which I suppose is part of the charm. This narrator isn't a bad guy, at all, after all, and so we feel he deserves to get away, though readers and writers shouldn't moralize. So if you were disappointed with the last one, which I was, although it deserved the otherwise good write-up I gave it, then you'll be very satisfied with this one, as it's almost a complete opposite of the same story, with the same set-up and almost the exact same situations. You'll probably roll your eyes, as I did, but you'll wish well for everyone, and it'll turn out the way you'll want it to.

                                                                                                Thursday, November 24, 2016

                                                                                                Thanksgiving 2016

                                                                                                Photo: From freepik.com

                                                                                                Things I'm Thankful for in 2016:

                                                                                                --I've got a better half who's great to me and for me. I haven't always been with someone who was both (or either), so this is a welcome change. Many people don't have someone special at all. Some who are married can't even say that. How many miserable unmarried people do you know? I know some happily married people--and I know some that make you wonder.

                                                                                                --Jackson the Greyhound is 14 and still living the high life. Which, for him, revolves around eating and sleeping, and going for strolls and rides.

                                                                                                --My good career and benefits. Lots of people don't have either of those, too.

                                                                                                --Purpose outside of my job. I have someone and something to come home to. Many come home to a TV or computer. I have those (and I have blogs), but I have more, thank God. I know too many couch potatoes and phone slaves. No thanks.

                                                                                                --Creative ability. Not all the writing sells, but that's okay. Keep on keeping on. Boredom is a death to me, so I really appreciate this. I'll throw hobbies into this, too, as I think they're a branch of creativity.

                                                                                                --Respectful neighbors.

                                                                                                --Not too many financial pitfalls, though I probably need brake work as I'm typing this.

                                                                                                What I Want to Say I'm Thankful for in 2017:

                                                                                                --Better time management skills. I should be writing more, and more consistently.

                                                                                                --That the USA hasn't come under chaos or martial law by this time next year. I hope I look back upon this next year and chastise myself for worrying too much. We'll see.

                                                                                                --That the better half and Jackson are as happy with me then as they are now. Or happier!

                                                                                                What're you thankful for?

                                                                                                Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

                                                                                                Tuesday, November 22, 2016

                                                                                                Comic Con 2016 -- Christian Slater

                                                                                                Some pics from Comic Con this November in Providence, RI.

                                                                                                Me and Christian Slater:

                                                                                                This was Christian Slater's first-ever Con of any kind. He's eligible for Mr. Robot, his current show, which I haven't seen, and from his guest role in a Star Trek movie. (If you know which one, you're much more of a fan than I, though I've seen all of the original films, and all of the rebooted Kirk films.)

                                                                                                But the majority of the talk at the panel was about Heathers, of course. For example, in this pic, where it looks like I'm in the picture I'm taking, but it's not me:

                                                                                                Slater was an extremely friendly guy when I met him for his picture and autograph. Not just faking it, as many of them do, and not sounding like he's uncomfortable or disgusted. He's aged well, partly perhaps because he seems like a very nice, laid-back guy. My better half also says it's because he married someone outside the business, which is also a possible reason. He seemed to be having a good time. Only time will tell if he's the same way after his 100th Comic Con, but he was cool here.

                                                                                                He said he got the cameo in that Star Trek movie because his mother was casting for the film, and someone had just dropped out of the role, and they were ready to shoot. He'd been on the lot shooting a show and a movie, and his mother asked if he had a moment. He was a fan of the show, so he agreed to the spot start.

                                                                                                He also received a lot of questions about Pump Up the Volume, which I suppose was a little ahead of its time. Message-wise, not high school. But we could sure use Harry now! I got a chance to comment to him about Murder in the First, a very overlooked movie, and one which I wished I'd had more of a chance to speak to him about. I got in line at the panel, but they ran out of time, so me and three others had to sit back down. But I brought the movie up to him in person, said I liked it, and he said, "Yes! Of course!" which he said to a great many things. But it was his first Comic Con, so he'll have to work on his instant responses. But at least it wasn't fake. As usual, an honest guy, no BS.

                                                                                                Coming soon: Michael Cudlitz, recently departed of The Walking Dead, at Comic Con.

                                                                                                Sunday, November 20, 2016

                                                                                                Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo -- A Book Review

                                                                                                [::Long, deep sigh:: Let's get through the next four years together, Reader, you and I. Okay, moving on...]

                                                                                                Photo: from Bostonglobe.com, via this link

                                                                                                Very tight story, in 1st person except for the last short chapter--a bit of a writerly cheat, that--about a professional hitman, sort of like Leon, who is told to "fix" his boss's wife. He falls in love with her from a distance, of course, and instead wants to save her. Or does he? The story descends (not in a bad way, but you feel the story is a descent of some kind) from there, with a bit of self-deception. You might like the ending, or you might not, but there's no denying that it fits. He waits for a woman to take stock of her business before closing for the night, but he instead "takes stock" of himself. (GET IT?) And, like the rest of us, sometimes, especially in our darkest nights, he doesn't like what he sees.

                                                                                                It's noir, so each of his nights is our darkest night. That's the genre, take it or leave it. By the way, rumor has it that Leonardo DiCaprio has been attached to an adaptation of this book since 2014. IMDB says it's "in development," but it's been in that stage of purgatory for two years now.

                                                                                                The book reads a bit like Stephen King's Blaze, in the sense that it's taut and interesting, and it moves, though you've seen it all before, and probably will again. That's okay here; in fact, it's part of the allure, maybe. You know the wife will be up to no good--she's cheating on her husband, after all, which is why he wants her "fixed"--and wait until you see who she's cheating with. That's probably the new slant of this story. You probably haven't seen that before. I can't remember the last time I saw it. [Austrian accent.] What do you think about that, Dr. Freud?

                                                                                                It's American Noir taking place in Norway, which doesn't exactly make it Nordic Noir. Harry Hole, Jo Nesbo's main cash cow, is more Nordic Noir than this is, so this is a welcome relief if you've tired of Nesbo's series, as I have. (Couldn't stand it when he killed off Hole's female partner, without anyone shedding a tear, and even had her cut up in many little pieces. Worse, you could see that coming a mile away, as all the characters, including Hole, are just standing there with their thumbs in the air.) Anyway, this really could have taken place anywhere, though the ending needs a frozen night. But, hell, you can get that around my neck of the woods, and it's blizzards right now in the Midwest.

                                                                                                So this is a good, quick read, which I ate up in about four total hours over two days. As usual with a Nesbo book, I had a minor bad taste in my mouth at the end, this time about the writer cheat of telling the book in first person, except for the very short third person final chapter. (A recent read, from Frank Tallis, did the same thing, except Tallis steps around the cheat by giving us some medical reports that we were expecting, rather than a blatant break of the wall.) The ending made sense in a thematic way, though it may not end as you'd hope, though why it matters with someone who's killed scores of people is maybe a mystery, and a testament of a sort of Nesbo's ability to humanize the monstrous main character. Again, no denying Nesbo's writing ability, and maybe I'm the only one who walks away slightly disappointed with every Nesbo book. I feel that it is more me than him, which is why I'm rating it like I am.

                                                                                                But, still...

                                                                                                Coming soon: Movie reviews of Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival, plus this year's Comic Con in RI.

                                                                                                Thursday, November 10, 2016

                                                                                                I Voted to Protect Those Who Apparently Didn't Need Protection

                                                                                                In a quick vomit, because my gorge rises at it, a few things about Election Day:

                                                                                                --I'll call them the Reality TV Voters: they apparently are so de-sensitized by bad behavior, like they see on reality TV (which was heavily controlled and scripted), that when it happens in actual reality, they don't care--or perhaps they don't notice the difference. This is exemplified by the fact that Hillary did not get the younger vote like Obama did. (Or not enough of them voted.) I also have to conclude that today's society simply doesn't care as much about decent behavior. I don't want to sound like that old guy, and certainly I'm no paragon of appropriate (or even good and decent) behavior, but then I'm not running for President, either.

                                                                                                --Also, obviously nobody cares about experience. Hillary's vast experience, as Secretary of State, as Senator, and tons of other things, worked against her. The voters wanted someone who literally has never held a political office of any kind. Not even as someone on a school committee or city council. Possibly for the first time in history, we have a President with absolutely zero political experience of any kind, not even on a neighborhood level.

                                                                                                --53% of all white women who voted did so for He-who-must-not-be-named. While this means that they frankly just didn't like her (which is Hillary's fault), it also means that, overall, voting American white women did not care that he sexually assaulted other American white women. This speaks volumes about our current stance towards women, sex, and men who sexually assault women. And the women who do not give a sh-t about it. We should not support those who oppress us.

                                                                                                --Hillary did not get the female vote. Not that women should automatically vote for a woman, but probably they should vote for any candidate who a) is a woman, AND who b) has not sexually assaulted women. Probably women should not vote for a man who not only sexually assaulted other women, but who also bragged about it. And who obviously assaulted many other women who have not come forward. And who has bragged about it when he was not being recorded doing so. It makes no sense to me that the oppressed and the suppressed support those who oppress and suppress them. Unless they believe that he really didn't do these things. If so, they better also believe that Bill Cosby also didn't do the same things. Which he clearly did. Is it possible that many of them believe that the black guy did these things but not the white guy? Or does Cosby not matter? What does matter?

                                                                                                --Apparently we were not ready for a female president, specifically this one. I conclude that angry bitter white men, who for the past 8 years have seen a) a black president; b) gay rights; c) gay marriage; d) transgender rights and e) free health care for the very poor, looked at a woman president and that's where they drew the line. (And so did the white bitter angry women married or related to them.) Okay to A through E, but a woman president? "F--k no!" they said, and voted that way.

                                                                                                --Let's not also forget to be angry at Hillary herself. Fact is, she ran a sh-tty campaign. Though I don't understand it, she did not carry the female vote, the black vote or the Latino vote. (Or, not enough of them voted overall.) I have to conclude that the majority of those three groups didn't vote at all, which is also strange, since they have the most to lose if she lost. It's like they didn't feel the need to protect themselves, like he didn't scare them enough that they felt they needed to vote against him. I, a middle-class white guy, felt I needed to vote against him in order to defend them, so the fact that they didn't feel the need to defend themselves strikes me as inexplicable. But while we blame them, let's also blame her, because she needed to court them and she didn't. She felt, I guess, that she automatically had them, because of how vile his behavior was towards them, and she was wrong. Her assumption, while understandable, is not forgivable in the political game. All she had to do was bury the media with TV ads of him saying these horrible things, especially from a clip of the tape (even if something needs to get beeped out), and constantly remind those three groups of what they had to lose, and she probably would've had them. Had she gotten the female vote and the minority vote, especially the Latino vote (or if more of them had voted overall), she would've carried Florida and Pennsylvania and she would've won. She didn't even try to do that. So she didn't win.

                                                                                                Wednesday, November 9, 2016

                                                                                                I'm Seeing Red

                                                                                                Photo: An unwelcome visitor in my life today, about 12 hours before another one. Except this bug, which has an uncanny resemblance to he-who-must-not-be-named, won't last another 4 years. Maybe Trudeau can use it as Trump's icon for Doonesbury.

                                                                                                I guess we don't mind that our leader assaults women, physically and verbally (as women themselves don't, since 53% of voting white women voted for him), doesn't pay his taxes, is biased towards anyone who's not a white male, and mocks the disabled. We're going to get the chaos we apparently want. Strap yourselves in. It's going to be a looooooooooooooong 4 years.

                                                                                                Where's my passport? I think I'll go retire to southern France or Spain. Who's with me?

                                                                                                Tuesday, November 8, 2016

                                                                                                I Almost Voted for Hodor

                                                                                                My vote today won't be a surprise to you if you've been reading this blog for the last month or so. Though I felt like I was choosing lounge chairs on the Titanic, I voted for Clinton. I wish there was a way I could affix an asterisk next to the oval I filled in, so that beneath it I could write * with extreme reservations. But you can't do that, so I filled in my ovals and moved on. I took a 20-question poll afterward, which took a lot longer than did the voting itself. I live in a rather small community, so the vote took maybe 5 minutes, max, starting with me approaching the women at the table who had the books of eligible voters. (One of them yelled my name aloud, which may have woken an astronaut on the moon. Can someone tell me in a comment why they have to do that?)

                                                                                                Someone asked me recently why I would vote for Clinton. Even if that person has read my blog (he hasn't), it's a fair question. You may have noticed that I wrote a lot of blogs about why I won't vote for Trump, but not one blog about why I'd vote for Clinton. In essence, that's my answer: I'm more voting against Trump than I am voting for Clinton. I almost wouldn't mind voting for one of the other candidates (as a friend of mine did, who voted for Jill Stein), except a) that would take a vote away from Clinton, which essentially is a vote for Trump, which helps him win--and I simply cannot do that; and b) the other candidates seem a little screwy, at best. They are not awesome alternatives.

                                                                                                So that's my answer, really. I'm voting against Trump, not for Clinton. I suspect that a very large percentage of people voting for her would say the same. That leaves a bad taste, but nobody promised me a rose garden, and I'm a little too long in the tooth to think that everything needs to be fair in this world. To emphasize this point, I almost voted for a write-in candidate: Hodor. Because I wanted to make a bumper sticker that said: Don't blame me. I voted for Hodor! But I chickened out.

                                                                                                Photo: If anyone wants to start a Vote Hodor! campaign, count me in

                                                                                                Despite the dozens (or perhaps, literally, hundreds) of offensive, stupid, arrogant, ignorant, harmful, disrespectful, biased, xenophobic, and misogynist things Trump has said and done, he lost me a long time ago when he physically and verbally mocked a disabled New York Times reporter, imitating both his slurred speech and his uncontrollable movements. My President simply doesn't do that. Chances are, if my high school teachers wouldn't tolerate that behavior in the classroom, I'm not going to tolerate that behavior in my President. Mine will not mock and make fun of the disabled. It is that simple. My President also will not hate women, physically abuse women, say hateful things to and about women, and cut corners on taxes for 18 years if he's a billionaire (You don't think Bill Gates and Oprah also know those loopholes? But they've given millions to charities--and they pay taxes).

                                                                                                My President will not hate. And that's what this man does--or, at least, is what he wants us to think he does. He hates. He's shockingly bitter and angry for a very rich, very privileged white man. I don't know why such a pampered rich guy is so hateful, but he is. I suspect a personality disorder, such as narcissism, is to blame. Maybe a sociopathic issue. Or maybe he's just a butthole. Nobody's got the right to be a d--chebag anymore. I'm betting that with him, it's just that simple: he's just an a--hole.

                                                                                                And so that's it. I'm looking forward to the end of this fiasco, by far the worst of my lifetime. I suspect that elections with the likes of John C. Calhoun and others around Lincoln's time were far worse than this. I remember that a vice-president (Alexander Hamilton) was killed in a duel, after all. And then they made a musical out of him. I'm guessing there will not be a Trump musical.

                                                                                                Even if you disagree, please go out and vote. People all over the world are dying in their battle to get this right. You can't complain about the winner, or anything at all about politics, if you don't vote.

                                                                                                And for a hilarious send-up of Trump, called Darth Trump, using famous Star Wars scenes, go to https://youtu.be/KU_Jdts5rL0

                                                                                                Sunday, October 30, 2016

                                                                                                A Warning About A Society's Purge and A Book Review

                                                                                                Photo: the paperback's cover, from it's Goodreads page

                                                                                                Vienna Secrets by Frank Tallis is a very good book, #4 in the series, that was nominated for an Edgar Award in 2011. The mystery involves a few decapitated men, all in one way or another seen as enemies of Vienna Jews--the last one also being Jewish himself. There are the typical cast of characters, all of whom seem guilty in some way, until the real murderer shows himself towards the end. Max Liebermann gets out of that mess, solves the crime, solves a male patient's pseudo-pregnancy, and walks out of a meeting with his job--in that order. Once again, Tallis seems to show that the crime is second-fiddle compared to the more normal things his character has to go through.

                                                                                                But the real purpose of this book, as with the first three and the following two (I don't know why I've read them out of order, but it's not proven to be a problem), is to show the growing anti-Semitic dissension in 1903 Vienna. The subject is integral to the plot, to the characters, to everything. The book ends with the sadly ironic statement: "Today, Jews may be insulted and abused, but they will never be consigned to the flames again." This was supposedly written in Dr. Liebermann's journal in Vienna, 1903. Hitler, who was born in Austria on April 20, 1889, and who spent time in Vienna, was 14. Since he moved to Germany in 1913, he could plausibly have been a part of Liebermann's 1903 Vienna, but Tallis apparently decided--wisely--not to go there. But the irony of that sentence is impossible to miss.

                                                                                                I've harped on this before, in my other Tallis / Liebermann reviews, and Tallis himself has harped on this in every single Liebermann book, but I'll harp on it again: These books were written long before this last year's election cycle, but the warning is not subtle:

                                                                                                Beware of the makeup of your society, and beware who rules that society.

                                                                                                A country's leader is a reflection of that society, not the other way around.

                                                                                                A woman-hater, for example, cannot succeed in a society otherwise void of woman-haters. A xenophobe who fears / hates Mexicans cannot succeed in a society that does not otherwise fear / hate Mexicans. Though such an aspiring leader may lose an election by garnering "only" 30% to 40% of the vote, such a percentage is still alarmingly high and must be seriously addressed by that society. Simply put, that's a lot of fear and hate. Even if that aspiring leader goes away, the fear and hate-mongering that he flamed will not. It'll be there, and it could, and probably would, get worse.

                                                                                                It's happened before. Europe, 1890-1945. Spain and England have had Jewish purges. America has had a Native American purge. Think about it: If the current aspirant could wipe out those he hated, would he? Even his allies would say Yes. (In fact, that may be why they're his allies.)

                                                                                                So watch out. Beware of the makeup of your society, and beware who rules that society.

                                                                                                This book shows that was true in 1903 Vienna, and it shows it's true in 2016 America.

                                                                                                Beware. Keep your eyes open.

                                                                                                Saturday, October 29, 2016

                                                                                                Getting It Wrong -- A Clockwork Orange

                                                                                                Photo: from the MSN article linked below. You've got to see this movie. A disturbing masterpiece.

                                                                                                I recently read an MSN photoslide article of 40 movies that critics got completely wrong. (Click that to read it.) Some made me so upset that I had to vent--I mean, blog--about them. For example:

                                                                                                “Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange' is an ideological mess, a paranoid right-wing fantasy masquerading as an Orwellian warning. It pretends to oppose the police state and forced mind control, but all it really does is celebrate the nastiness of its hero, Alex.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

                                                                                                Of all the movie critics I've read over the years, I agreed with Roger Ebert most. (Though I am most frustrated with his review of Dead Poet's Society, but that wasn't one of MSN's 40 here, so that's a blog for another day.)

                                                                                                But he got this one wrong. (See the movie if you haven't.) A Clockwork Orange is not paranoid right-wing fantasy. That's Trump-land, a country that Kubrick would never consider visiting. Though he had his share of really out-there thoughts (and don't we all), Kubrick did not feel Britian's (which is where he lived, let's not forget) police force was in danger of dominating his country with a tight fist.

                                                                                                It is an Orwellian warning, in a way, but not as criticized here. Certainly Orwell's lesson of "beware of who you elect to control you," and, for that matter, "beware of those who you let control you" is in play here--but that's not what the movie is really about.

                                                                                                A Clockwork Orange says to beware of a totalitarian police state (with the emphasis on the police), but it also says that we do need a large and controlling police presence, because human nature sucks, and left to our own devices, chaos will reign. That's the irony Kubrick was trying to show. Kubrick was all about irony, all the time. And so it is here.

                                                                                                Alex isn't the criminal, the movie says. His society is criminalizing, and he is a criminal as a byproduct. Though Alex is individually responsible for his own actions, the bureaucracy that tries to "civilize" him just makes him worse. This movie is definitely an attack of that bureaucracy. Remember the scenes of the guard transferring Alex? Remember the bureaucratic forms that had to be filled out? Remember how long that took, especially that ingenious shot of the guard separating the perforated portion after that's signed? Who wouldn't be driven to anger or mindlessness in that nihilistic setting of dominant mindlessness? When the bureaucracy is all that matters, we're all lost.

                                                                                                The insinuation here is that we are all Alex, or at least potentially so. So the movie doesn't pretend to oppose the police state. It does oppose the police state--as depicted as a mindless bureaucracy. It's not paranoid at all--often, human nature does suck, and at our core, no matter how much we think we're civilized, we're all still baseless and base. (That was the point of 2001, too. Remember the million-year flashforward bone-flip? Despite all our technology, all our civilizations--on Earth and on the moon--we're still just a base, bone-loving species. Some of us are okay with that, but some of us strive to be more than that, a new species, maybe, capable of so much more.) Burgess's novel somewhat says the same thing, and this movie beats it over our heads.

                                                                                                Since we're all capable of being Alex--some more so than others--we do need a heavy police presence. But too large a police presence (and it's mind control) is just as bad, if not worse, as having too many criminals. So it's bad to have, but we do need it, to some degree. What degree is that? Well, in the movie, it was too much. In the beginning of the movie, it wasn't enough. So where's the line? Kubrick didn't know, and he's saying we don't know, either. Recent events in America since Ferguson show we still don't know. (Art imitates life, right?)

                                                                                                And so the movie doesn't celebrate the nastiness of Alex as much as it uses that behavior to prove its point. In very broad strokes, written large, the movie showcases the all-too-human negative "celebration" of the nastiness in us all. Kubrick (and Burgess) say: We're all potentially that nasty. Which is why mind control and a police body politick aren't the answers. The answer has to come from within us, individually. In only that way can we create a "civilized society," which is a Nietzschean umbrella term that really doesn't exist--another point that Kubrick makes here. The movie is all about that irony, painted with very broad strokes to the point of satire and farce--but, let's face it: Isn't civilization, society, and other umbrella terms all a farce anyway?

                                                                                                Look around you. Look at American politics right now. Look at what we call our civilized society--a culture that actually does celebrate the dehumanization of women, minorities, LGBTs and, really, anyone else who is not a self-satisfied, arrogant, pompous, self-loving rich white male. (We don't seem to understand the difference between self-serving "facts" and actual facts, either.) And, by the way, our American society is still one of the best, most stable ones out there in the whole world.

                                                                                                That's the reality right now. It's that million-year bone flip in 2001: Despite our technology, despite what we call our civilized society, we're all still a bunch of bone-wielding, power-wielding, blood-loving savages. And no matter how we're trying to control ourselves--with prisons, politics or mind-control (and those last two are often the same thing, by the way) we're always going to be like that.

                                                                                                Because we're human, and that's our human nature.

                                                                                                That's not a very negative, twisted farce?

                                                                                                Tuesday, October 25, 2016

                                                                                                Before and After The Walking Dead's Season 7 Premiere

                                                                                                Photo: from the Walking Dead Season 7's Wikipedia page

                                                                                                You can find more blog entries about Season 7 (and past seasons) of The Walking Dead by clicking on the tab for it at the top of this blog. I post this here just to introduce that separate blog. Thanks!

                                                                                                Just Before the Episode Airs

                                                                                                So, Season 7 is upon us, and I'm back for a blog of The Walking Dead since Season 5. Been busy!!!

                                                                                                Who will Negan be bashing with the baseball bat? Since the premiere starts in half an hour, there isn't a lot of time to get into it, so I'll present options and pick, and we'll see how right I was. (Or, wasn't.)








                                                                                                Okay, so my picks. Glenn gets it in the comics here, and in an interview, Lauren Cohen cried about this episode and said it was very depressing and difficult. In the comics, after he dies, she miscarries and then kills herself, but I'm guessing not all of that will happen.

                                                                                                But I think Glenn goes. The showmakers have veered from the comics quite a bit, but I don't think they will here. Plus, Glenn's arc has crested.

                                                                                                I also think Eugene and/or Abraham will go. I wouldn't be surprised if both do, but if I had to pick one, I'd go with...both. Eugene's character has definitely crested and there's not much more for him to do. Once he found his bravery, there wasn't anything else. And Abraham...well, he's basically been another Daryl lately, and that can't go on. His character has more to still do, but...I can't choose between them.

                                                                                                The same can be said for Michonne, and for Daryl, but I'm not ready to pick them yet. Frankly, the showmakers can't be that dumb to cast Daryl away, and Michonne has maybe crested, but has too much of a fan base, especially among women. I mean, she's basically a female Rick, and I mean that in the kindest of all possible ways. Seriously, that's a compliment. Either one would be a logical choice, but I'm not ready to go there.

                                                                                                I am ready to pick Rosita and / or Sasha, but I feel that there would be something interesting between them once Abraham goes. But I wouldn't be surprised if one of them gets hit.

                                                                                                And Aaron is just sort of there. Those guys don't last too long. He goes.

                                                                                                So now I've boiled it down to:

                                                                                                Aaron, Eugene, Abraham, Glenn, with a few maybes. I mean, if the showmakers really want to be mean, they can make it Maggie herself, but that would be...shocking, though not surprising, if you know what I mean. I've only recently been talked out of saying she was one of the ones tonight.

                                                                                                But I have my doubts. (Before the previews, I've even said that Carl could get it. But Rick would've been more insane in the previews had that been the case.)

                                                                                                But I'll say No for now. So four is too many. I'll pick two.

                                                                                                I'll say: Glenn and Eugene or Abraham. Maybe all three. Aaron gets away because he's so irrelevant.

                                                                                                And I don't expect Negan himself to last too long. Certainly not all season. Maybe a few episodes.

                                                                                                My guess is that they won't show who it is until almost an hour in. (The show is an hour and six minutes tonight.)

                                                                                                If you're reading this, what do you think? Make a guess in the comments if you'd like, and I'll be back to this blog with another entry to wrap it up and see how I did.

                                                                                                After the Episode

                                                                                                Well, I didn't want to be right, but so far I was: Abraham and Glenn.

                                                                                                Both deserved better. Glenn especially didn't deserve to go like that, with one eye bulging out. He got in a promise to Maggie, and showed he loved her, but...at least Abraham got a few choice words and attitude in there.

                                                                                                I was just asked why I felt Abraham would get it. One: as I mentioned before, he was essentially another Daryl, and that wouldn't last long. Second, he was listed as one of the stars at the Rhode Island Comic-Con, which is often an indicator that one's role has diminished--as Father Gabriel's last year--or that it has ended. His role wouldn't lessen, so it had to be that it was ending.

                                                                                                Now I'm watching The Talking Dead, so let's see how that goes...I'll watch that now...

                                                                                                Touching tributes to the departed. Hard to believe it's been six years for Glenn! And for all of us watching the show. Cool that Yeun said it was an honor for the end to come to him, as it's the catalyst for everything else that happens, and apparently there's quite a bit. Great attitude! I'm watching Michael Cudlitz and going to bed. Thanks for reading!