The real, abandoned Westworld

This picture made the rounds days ago but it made me think about the scenes from Futureworld when Blythe Dinner and Peter Fonda were allowed to see the ruins of Westworld. So in many ways, Chuck E Cheese and Showbiz Pizza alongside Disney’s super boring Hall of Presidents are precursors to a robot-hosted vacation! It’s a stretch. Imagine the distant future when archaeologists dig up this junk! They are really going to be confused. I wish I could read/hear their theories on it, then I could tell them the truth like a pre-evil Woody Allen does in Sleeper.

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Alamo Drafthouse files for Chapter 11, loses the Ritz

Yesterday, the day after our asshole governor decided to create more super spreader events (upcoming Spring Breaks filled with dill holes), my favorite movie theater chain has declared bankruptcy. To add insult to injury, they shuttered their premiere location in downtown Austin, the historic Ritz Theater. Another reason for going into the city removed, the biggest annoyance is the highway-robbery rates for parking.

Although the Ritz wasn’t their first location, it became their greatest thanks to its stage and when it was packed, it was awesome. So many memories made there:

  • Two different screenings with Joe Bob Briggs hosting.
  • Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) doing a Q&A.
  • Viv Savage of Spinal Tap doing a Q&A.
  • Numerous Master Pancake shows.
  • Trace & Frank of MST3K doing a live riff with the Master Pancake gang.
  • Russellmania! An all-day marathon of five Kurt Russell movies to celebrate the actor’s birthday with James Hong showing up at the end.
  • The Summer of 1982 celebration. I made it to all eight featured films!
  • Restoration prints of 2001 and Barry Lyndon and shown with Kubrick’s original instructions.
  • A screening of Blazing Saddles to commemorate the passing of Gene Wilder.
  • Seeing Last Crusade in 70mm when they got a projector upgrade.

It was a fantastic chapter for one of Austin’s oldest movie theaters. When I first moved here in 1994, the place was a pool hall/bar, I think. Now I wonder what the owners will do with it next. Given how crappy Sixth Street has become, trust me, it’s filthy and what MTV would resemble if it were a street.

Farewell Alamo Ritz. Fingers crossed the Village, Lakeline and other locations survive this horrendous economy.


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Texas gubmint decides to murder the poor for Kapitalism

The animation from The Simpsons is a pretty accurate representation of how fucking dumb and willfully ignorant the Texas government, namely the executive branch, is. It’s also spot-on impression of this douchenozzle we have named Sid Miller, he’s the Agricultural Commissioner. He has a history of moronic tweets proving that people like him happen when cousins marry too often.

Why, why, why? We’re nowhere close to having a significant portion of the state vaccinated and 200 people a day are still dying. Major draws to Austin will remain virtual: SXSW 2021, ATX Fest; or just haven’t been scheduled: Moontower and my TMBG tickets were pushed back to 2022. The popular conclusion is greedy, careless assholes wanting to host Spring Break in Corpus and other beaches. We all know how this will end, new super spreader events.

Yet why should the NeoConfederates in charge care? They’ve been vaccinated from a virus they cast doubt on. Before I die, my biggest wish is to see Texas turn blue and throw these shit bags out to the boonies where they belong. Eating clay with the fellow hillbillies.

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An iMac on Mars!

Not exactly. The recent probe Perseverance utilizes what was state-0f-the-art in the first iMac in 1998, the G3 processor with its blazing speed of 233 MHz (most processors are in the single-digit GHz range or at least a thousand times faster). No luck getting NASA to color the probe bondi blue or the other cool colors Apple rolled out later.

Years ago I once asked, why the heck isn’t NASA using contemporary processors when they had a chance to update Hubble and went with an Intel 386? Older designs are easier (or more successfully) hardened against the nasty conditions outside Earth’s atmosphere. Mars has only one percent of the atmosphere we have so radiation has nothing to stop it if you’re on the surface. So your brand new iPad or slick portable will be transformed into a doorstop within a few seconds on the ISS and don’t even think about it surviving the trip to the red planet. This will also pose a huge problem when we start getting closer to people landing on Mars. How will they explore, return safely and not die of cancer in a few years.

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Ocean View food truck invades Austin!

For those who didn’t get the reference, Ocean View is the fictional city Bob’s Burgers is set in. As for which state? I’m going to go out on a limb and say New Jersey. I’ll need to check harder on the episode which showed a map when they drove to Florida to see Linda’s parents at the whacky retirement community.

Meanwhile, the picture is a nod to the food-truck episode involving Bob’s lesser, on-off-again secondary nemesis Randy (Jimmy Pesto is the primary). This one is very clever and on par with others I recall: Soy to the World (Randy’s) and Genghis Flan. I did share with Bob’s creator Loren Bouchard via Twitter, got a like back in 24 hours! Thanks Loren, big fan of all your work and congrats with The Great North, great to see you paying it forward with the Molyneux sisters!

We didn’t have time to check out what they were offering, or the other nearby vehicles because we had a reservation at Bangers (sic), an excellent, joint beer hall and sausage restaurant. They serve individual beers by the liter!

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Here’s to the future that was!

One of my favorite Adult Swim shows from the initial launch is March’s header. I held off celebrating the crew’s misadventures to now because a vaccine rollout (January) and Chinese New Year (February) were more pressing…or would it be relevant. If you’re not familiar with the show, you can now watch all of its seasons through HBO Max via the Adult Swim portal. Sealab 2021 is also Archer‘s parent show, a big reason why Archer fans will enjoy it and it explains a certain episode with John Ham. The difference between them, Archer has original artwork and more famous voice actors while Sealab 2021 repurposed and modified the mediocre Hanna-Barbera material, making it even funnier, especially scenes involving Sparks.

The original cartoon was some rote crap from Saturday mornings in the Seventies when people still thought the NASA would get us to Mars by the Eighties and we’d find future solutions underwater. The Adult Swim writers did remake one story which had a hilarious ending, you just have to be patient for the payoff.

Lastly, I thought it would be funny to share all the things we were told as kids on how the human race would progress. My fave was something I found in sixth grade around 1979-80. I could tell our World History textbook was clueless (printed in the mid Seventies) since it projected a permanent settlement on the moon by 1996 despite NASA getting mothballed after Skylab. Now poor NASA is dependent on billionaire assholes to deliver supplies to the ISS boondoggle.

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CPAC = Comic Con for American Fascists

I can see those greasy-haired, Reagan wannabes from my days at Marquette at this MAGAt rally, telling stories about how the Libruls at Marquette trying to cancel them in the Eighties. Riiiiiight. They’ll obviously the critical details of what their moronic leader Scott Walker really did to deserve a suspension and how the dumbass didn’t even graduate.

The statue being mocked in the picture above shows how far off the rails the Republicans have gone, publicly. Personally I think they already did decades ago with how much they worshipped Reagan via Grover Norquist’s quixotic plans to get everything named after the Great Bullshitter.

It’s going to be an ugly, nasty two years as the competitions for 2022 are in full swing.

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Wonder Woman 1984: needs more development/editing

It’s a good thing AT&T prepared for a beating by going with this sequel via streaming because 84 was another mediocre DC movie. What a pisser, I really liked the first one plus I was looking forward to the next chapter of Princess Diana’s adventures. However, it committed the number one mistake past superhero sequels have made…introduce two villains (Batman Returns, Spider-Man 3), which prevents either from getting much time to develop. Going with the Cheetah was perfect. I’m not an expert on her but I think she’s Wonder Woman’s oldest nemesis and so she’s on par with the Joker when it comes to Batman. Maxwell Lord just serves as the means to create the Cheetah, a larger menace and to remind the audience, hey, you remember the Eighties and all the greedy people like Gordon Gecko? Charles Keating and Michael Milken were the real ones yet more people remember the fictional crook.

The initial premise involving Lord using magic is pretty cool and it works due to Wonder Woman being a supernatural character. How it transforms Barbara Minerva from schlub to bad-ass cheetah-woman hybrid is confusing. Barbara just wanted to be as awesome as her co-worker Diana, how does it result in her growing fur and a tail? Bringing Steve Trevor back from the dead was another lazy move to get the easy Rip Van Winkle-based jokes and give the audience familiarity. Chris Pine barely has more charisma than Ted Cruz as his three Captain Kirk attempts proved. Honest Trailers brought up the biggest issue and source of confusion; Wonder Woman can make objects invisible? We all know and laugh at her invisible jet from the cartoons and Seventies but in 1984 it was a stretch until you wondered about how they got to Egypt on one tank in a short-range aircraft piloted by a former WWI vet.

I believe there’s a great movie trapped in this mess and after HBO Max releases the much hyped Snyder Cut of Justice League, they should look into fixing 1984. Man of Steel on the other hand, throw it in the trash and stick with Richard Donner’s movie. Wonder Woman is a pretty cool character who has been around as long as Supes and the Bat, she deserves another chance like they’ve received.

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An old piece of propaganda from the Seventies

The recent winter storm brought this to the forefront again as a friend asked why I was giving the temperature in Metric, then backpedalled on how he was joking. Another friend reminisced with me about the big push to learn it in the Seventies until St. Reagan came along. America was pretty fired up because I remember NBC used to have a series of interstitials identical to ABC’s School House Rock featuring superheroes: Meterman, Wondergram.

Forty-plus years later and Amerika continues to act like buffoons by rejecting an easier, more memorable system. I can never remember exactly how many damned feet or yards go into a mile. I know it’s around 5000 since it was based upon a unit of marching distance with the Roman armies. Temperature is even better, especially around Austin:

Below zero is freezing cold!
0° – 10° is cold to cool.
10° – 20° is cool but alright.
20° – 30° is nice with 25° being about perfect.
30° – 40° is warm to hot.
Over 4o° is damned hot!

With such a system, I knew when to be optimistic. Whenever the temperature went over zero, the snow and ice would melt!

Nevermind that most Americans, especially the moron MAGAts and those who swallow the myth of St. Reagan just want to grumble about Black Helicopters and say it was a failed Jimmy Carter ploy. Umm, Gerald Ford was the one signed the legislation to covert the US over in a decade but as always, let’s not get facts in the way.

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A most righteous and awesome jersey

Geeky Jerseys gave me second chance to get my customized version of this very Eighties and spectacular design thanks to the third movie debuting late last year. The design fits the former description because the colors utilized were pretty common then. The name for the team also flows off the tongue despite being two words.

I had to go with the Great Emancipator for my player choice. He’s the only historical figure the dude’s “borrowed” with a number associated with his fame. How I came up with 87 for Lincoln is pretty obvious since I would never go with Cindy Crosby.

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Fry’s bites the dust

“Well, that was sudden but sounds like them,” was my immediate reaction because customer service, product knowledge and basic human interactions were alien concepts to the Austin location. Ergo, them being open one day and then shut down nationwide seemed to fit their personality. I figure the person who made the decision is related to Mr. Burns yet delivered the news like Comic Book Guy.

Then I gave it some more thought, especially after reading an “obit” from Fast Company. Fry’s had been on the ropes. Made me think back to my last visit…before the dark times, I guess will be called PP or PC (Pre-Pandemic/Pre-Covid). I wish I remembered why I even went there. Anyway, the place resembled a ghost of what it had been. Partially-empty shelves and if they weren’t, non-electronic items took their place (LEGO® sets, toys, perfume, etc.). I knew they appeared to be struggling since the “traffic cop” you met at the end of the impulse-item gauntlet but before the cashier, was gone. Heck, even the number of cashier stations had been reduced.

So long and although the lists of complaints I could make would be long, I still treasure the good memories. They managed to outweigh the negative thanks to the reasonable prices, the variety and let’s face it, “brick and mortar” is more convenient than having to wait several days for Web orders. Heck, in Austin, many people’s ears perked up when someone said, “Hey, I need to get something at Fry’s, anyone want to tag along?” They did help me modify a few of my portables with bigger hard drives or handy backups. Fry’s weekend or weekly days made the local excuse for a daily newspaper worth reading every Friday. “What’s on sale? Oh yeah, ethernet cables!” If you knew what you needed, it was awesome. If you needed help, sadly, the numerous, poor schlubs forced to wear ties (until the end) made Ralph Wiggum informed. I always felt bad for them, they seemed to be refugees from Dellcatraz and now they were job hunting for something better than this retail limbo.

Thanks Fry’s. It was great while it lasted. I’m confident you would’ve lasted a few more years if you had better customer service. Here’s a pointer for next time, “no interest” is a policy for financing products to get people to buy stuff, it is not a mantra for your staff.

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Ad Astra, more like Ad Satietatem

I watched this last year as an accidental run of depressing Sci-Fi flicks I found on streaming services: Prospect, Aniara and A Quiet Place. The last one was Horror too but it’s set in the near future as some time had passed since the monsters arrived. I mentally shelved Astra because it sucked. The others had bleak premises and moments while only one had a tragic ended, the other two had cautious optimism. Astra had little to nothing going on from start to finish. I think the pitch went like this with writer/director James Gray: Hey, I have an idea, let’s make a Sci-Fi movie that’s even more boring, depressing and implausible than Interstellar. Oh yeah, we’ll cast an equally uncharismatic Brad Pitt since McConaughey did this before. I think Liv Tyler can do the emotionally crippled lady bit so the audience won’t think she’s Anne Hathaway.

Then comes the horrible Science and premise. Somehow, the hero’s dad led an expedition to the edge of the solar system to find intelligent life. The public was told all hands were lost decades ago but now NASA (or whoever) has deduced that dad is alive and he’s causing disruptions on Earth; some weird magnetic blasts you see at the film’s opening. The government needs Brad to travel to Mars, say a few words into a space microphone which may confirm the expedition’s last known location and leave. Instead, Brad becomes Captain McPunchy as he hijacks another rocket with three astronauts on their way to kill dear old dad with a nuclear bomb. The conclusion is pretty anti-climatic, Brad convinces dad (Tommy Lee Jones) to cut the crap with whatever he’s doing to harm the earth, blows it all up anyway and returns to Earth, ready to be less distant with Liv Tyler.

Throw in some really odd side matters which were really more interesting yet go nowhere:

  • Traveling on the moon’s surface is dangerous due to armed parties attacking anyone they think is trespassing on their claims.
  • An emergency stop to see why Scandanavians were in space with dangerous primates who killed them.
  • Life on Mars really sucks.
  • The Moon is a destination for very rich people.

Stir briskly with horrendous inaccurate Science (or none) namely a lake on Mars and getting to Neptune in a matter of weeks without relativistic side effects…you have this movie. If you’ve sat through Interstellar, you’ve suffered enough, especially with what Austin’s favorite dumbass who made good calls acting. If you’ve seen neither, just don’t bother. Now if you have Apple TV (the channel), watch the much better, more accurate For All Mankind.

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A pleasant surprise from the IRS, for a change

Before the latest Snowmageddon I received a “letter” from the IRS. Always a heart-stopper. They never send a “letter” to us actual taxpayers, usually a bill to compensate for the taxes Bezos, Musk and Gates don’t pay. This one I should have framed, it was informing me of a refund! Last year I owed an additional several grand due to an error with 2018 and before you ask, Somara was no damned help regarding it because she still thinks I’m responsible for her not getting her $1200 hail mary. If I did, then it should be mine now since I paid the 2018 deficit exclusively.

Oh, how big was the “refund?” About ten bucks. Wow. I can’t wait to jumpstart the economy caused by MAGAt ineptitude and continued by the Brunch Party. And, to the rest of you, you’re welcome!

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I declare Snowmageddon ’21 – Vol. II…over

Looking outside today, all I could see were little, isolated patches of snow or ice on the ground (not asphalt or concrete). So the weather element is done, especially with the temperature expected to hit 21° C. I craved junk/fast food so badly that I waited in queue at the closest McDonald’s, not Whataburger. I have to give McDo’s credit for efficiency, I only waited about 20 minutes in the drive-thru while there have been rumors going around on the Texas-fave taking at least an hour. I may prefer Whataburger but dammit, I was jonesin’ from being stir-crazy over the last several days.

Now comes the aftermath which I call blame throwing. The GOP has mastered this after 40-plus years of working the refs. I will always remember how Kapitalism, greed and willful negligence by the Confederates and NeoLiberals.

I will also start enjoying the better temperatures we should be enjoying in Central Texas until some point in May.

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Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

My movie review procrastination is semi-over! It was mostly driven by way too many things but I’m using the Texas Snowmageddon 2021 – Volume II‘s conclusion to get this new overdue subcategory rolling It’s based my attempt to bring Jennifer up to speed on Eighties movies; seems she missed out on like 90% of them.

Many entries have been hunted down through her DVR and the multiple Stars channels (nice to know cable isn’t a complete wasteland of advertising). The first flick I tormented Jennifer with was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I clearly remember what a surprise hit it became when I was in college. Excellent was one of those films that got made when Alex Winter was the bigger star due to The Lost Boys, got shelved because a focus group didn’t “get it,” and then revived via Keanu Reeves’ scene-stealing part from Parenthood. It’s a familiar story: see Teen Wolf for Michael J. Fox and Bachelor Party for Tom Hanks.

Everybody knows the plot and damn! it still holds up after 30-plus years, unlike Wayne’s World and all the other movies in which the leads are Heshers (in my day and region, we call them Burnouts). I did laugh at Stars’ “trigger warning” about, what was it? dated depictions or references…I think. In short, Bill and Ted calling each other “fag,” might cause certain, ignorant Millenials’ heads to explode since they never heard of the word “connotation.” Ergo, Stars must warn the morons to avoid legal liability. Next up, Stars will need to explain how the Scots utilize the C word and “fanny.”

With my mocking of thin-skinned, easily offended “culture,” out of the way, I forgot how clever Excellent really was and its numerous surprise cast members besides George Carlin. Time-travel flicks used to be rather too high brow and over complicated for general audiences unless it involved Mr. Spock learning how to curse Eighties style! Maybe Bill and Ted paved the way for Doctor Who‘s recent success? Excellent did cater to my love of History so their choices on who to “borrow” were interesting, amusing and forgivable despite the inaccuracies. Regarding the cast, it was great to see the late Bernie Casey again (their History teacher), the man was B-movie royalty! Revenge of the Nerds wouldn’t be the same without him! Diane Franklin was also one of the princesses they hooked up with later; Better Off Dead and Last American Virgin. Somebody involved must’ve loved music too. Joan of Arc was played by Jane Wiedlin (Go Gos guitarist/singer), the future government was composed of Clarence Clemons (Springsteen’s saxophonist), Martha Davis (Motels’ lead singer) and Fee Waybill (Tubes’ lead singer).

Jennifer’s reaction? She liked it well enough, between her Tik Tok viewings. At least she understands the references Bill and Ted added to the American lexicon.

If you have a suggestion, send it my way. The movie doesn’t necessarily have to be locked exactly in the Eighties. Just a close association you can rationalize or films which have a great impact on popular culture, like how The Simpsons could probably reconstruct Citizen Kane if put your mind to it!

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