Stranger Things

Now that Game of Thrones is over, I can spend more of my energy hating on Stranger Things. I used to feel badly that this kid annoyed the shit out of me. But now I feel vindicated. What a little asshole.

“…people everywhere should be on the lookout for Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo, who has just begun production on an eight-episode Netflix prank series targeting our most laugh-ready of societal victims: People just trying to find a damn job.”

The AV Club

https://news.avclub.com/gaten-matarazzos-cool-new-netflix-prank-show-is-all-abo-1835529125

I tried watching Stranger Things in the beginning, and couldn’t stand it. Never mind the blatant smarminess of 80s era Speilberg. It’s the hype around how accurately it captures the times that I think is bullshit.

I lived in the Midwest during the early 80s and so my credentials to nitpick this show are impeccable.

No one under 19 listened to the Clash in Indianapolis, let alone any of the podunk towns outside of it. They still don’t for that matter.

Second, the slang. No one EVER said “chill”. They didn’t even use that word in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” We didn’t call each other “douchebag” or “mouth breather” (no one Tweeted either). In those parts, being a douchebag and mouth breather are socially acceptable. So they’re not insults. If anything, you were a pussy, a fucker, or a dick. Or a butthole, if your parents were in earshot.

Lastly, kids with BMX bikes wouldn’t be caught dead riding with kids on Schwinns and Huffys. You can fight me on this one.

You Will

Remember those AT&T commercials back in the early ’90s that predicted a techno nirvana just around the corner? They were narrated by Tom Selleck who asked a question like, “have you ever renewed your license…from an ATM?” Then he’d answer his question with, “You will.”

They showed everyday situations in the not-too-distance. There weren’t any flying cars or people in jumpsuits. See, nothing to fear here. If anything, their vision of the future was…mundane.

In hindsight, that’s why those commercials were so sinister. It’s 26 years later, and many of their predictions came true, though they missed the one about AT&T going out of business.

One of the commercials asked “have you ever had a meeting…at the beach?” They show a guy in linen pants joining a video call. In 1993, that seemed like an awesome idea. Today, it is a horrible reality. I have had plenty of trips ruined by some asshole insisting on having a meeting despite knowing I was on vacation.

What if they had dialed up the realism in those ads just a little bit more? It might go something like this…

“Have you ever gotten into a pissing match…with the president of the United States? You will.”

“Have you ever sent your mom flowers…from the toilet? You will.”

“Have you ever seen…a goatse? You will.”

If only we knew then, what we know now. I don’t think any of us would have gone so willingly into the abyss that is the hellscape we live in now.

Thanks AT&T. You did.

Dead to Me

This week’s theme seems to be watching shows with “dead” in the title. We just finished binging Netflix’s “Dead to Me”. It was recommended to me by a friend whose taste I trust.

I loved the show. It’s the best thing Netflix has put out, besides the John Mulaney specials. The story reminds me of “A Simple Plan,” with Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda. Both stories are about covering your ass, only to have it blow up in your face later.

“A Simpel Plan” is one of my favorite movies and books and yet it makes me really uneasy. Most of the time, when you see a flawed protagonists, you think, “ah, those are extraordinary circumstances, I’d do things differently.” But with “Dead to Me” and “A Simple Plan”, I can’t say with any certainty that I would have done anything differently than the main characters. A lot of the bad choices make sense in the heat of the moment.

“Dead to Me” is a dark dark comedy. There are no jokes in it, all the laughs come from the stark reality of watching Jen, Christina Applegate, go through one fresh hell after another. Linda Cardellini’s Judy character is an interesting twist because she always plays someone serious and thoughtful (even in “Scooby Doo”).

It’s so well written and full of plausible plot twists. They wrapped up season 1 really well, so waiting a year doesn’t feel so bad, unlike “Barry” on HBO.

Lastly, I love the cast choice for Jen’s mother in law played by the actress on Seinfeld George calls pretentious. It is one of the all-time greatest moments of that series. It’s from the episode “The Truth” from season 3. Who hasn’t wanted to do exactly this at some point in their life?

The Lemonheads with Tommy Stinson at Slim’s

Last night we saw The Lemonheads at Slim’s in San Francisco. Tommy Stinson opened doing a solo acoustic act. I tried taking pictures, but they turned out horribly, so the best I can do are these shots of posters that are hanging at the DNA Lounge down the street.

The first act was a trio called the Restless Age. They’re from upstate New York and do a lot of session work. They’re like an updated version of The Band. They had a very early 80s sound about them, think Marshall Crenshaw doing Yacht Rock.

Tommy Stinson put a personable set. He was chatty with the audience, telling us about 11 year old daughter. This was the first time I’ve seen him as a solo act. I’ve seen him a couple times with The Replacements and Bash N’ Pop.

The last time I saw The Lemonheads, they were just “Lemonheads” and it was at Treto’s Uptown in Champaign around 1988 or ’89 around the same time I saw Dinosaur Jr. in their original line up. Coincidentally, I saw the latter a couple years ago at the Regency Theater. So I’ve been digging some GenX Fossils a lot lately.

Evan Dando sounded great, despite looking a little fried. It was great to see a rock star again, and not some clear eyed just happy to be famous newbie up there singing. I don’t think he was clean, but he also wasn’t incoherent.

1993’s “Come on Feel The Lemonheads” still holds up as a decent power pop album. I bought a copy of it in the cutout section in 1995, and still give it a listen a couple times a year. I was hoping to hear some stuff from it, and they did about 5 or 6 songs from it. So I left happy.

Take his wife, please!

Several people whose opinion I trust(ed) have told to me to check out “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” because I like comedy so much. Oh my god, I could barely make it through the first episode. I hated it so much, words couldn’t describe it. Thank God, Emily Nussbaum, TV critic from the “New Yorker” did it for me.

Everyone overacted in the episode I saw. Like “Madman”, its a reproduction of a reproduction. The creators appear to be modernizing the past as it should have been instead of portraying it the way it probably was. What’s next? A remake of “I Dream of Jeannie” with some stupid twist like a secret dominatrix lair in her bottle?

I wanted to like Mrs. Maisel because I wanted to find a show I liked period. It has a great cast and the premise (though I haven’t seen Tony Shaloub this cliched since “Wings”). To say it’s edgy is to misunderstand the term. Instead, it’s horribly precocious and pretentious. But that’s not the worst thing about it. It’s phony, sterile, and predictable like a Dan Brown book.

I remember when everyone was reading “The Da Vinci Code”. They talked about it like they had been reading some illuminated manuscript they discovered in the catacombs of the Vatican.

We were out to dinner with a bunch of friends who had all read it. Everyone was sharing parts they loved. I finally chimed in, and per my usual, ruined the moment, and said, “doesn’t it bother any of you that Langdon pretty much solves everything on the first try?” Pause, and everyone went back to gushing over the book like it wasn’t fiction “I had no idea Opus Dei existed.”

The Da Vinci Code and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel remind me of Michael Crichton’s books – a tired hero trope with a veneer of research. It’s like someone took some Elmer’s glue and stuck a hardcover version of a better book over a ratty pulp paperback.

I’m glad to see scripted television come back, but the glut of reality TV and user generated content on YouTube has lowered the bar that even mediocre and unoriginal are good enough to escape real criticism.

Decoding the coding code

This guy makes a great point about ignoring the hype around teaching our kids to code. We shouldn’t. Instead, we should focus on developing their problem-solving skills.

I couldn’t agree more. We never encouraged our kids to develop skills over learning how to learn. You can figure out skills later in life after deciding whether or not they’re worth it. 

Plenty of people who were conned into developing skills have been left in the dust of progress and change. In a world that is always changing, mastery isn’t nearly as valuable as adaptability. 

Besides, most of what they teach kids about code today in school or one of those bullshit code academies is already obsolete. 

If you’re thinking of pushing your kids to learn code, ask yourself why. Is it because you think they’ll make more money? If that’s the case, you’re better off encouraging them to be an Instagram influencer. They make a shit ton more money for doing absolutely nothing. If it’s job security, then tell them to go into elder care or nursing because there are way more openings in those fields, and they have yet to find a way to offshore them.

I have a lot more I’d like to add to this topic. Stay tuned.

Cool parents

We’re not cool parents, but we are fun parents. There’s a difference. Cool parents let their kids and their kids’ friends do stuff other parents won’t. Fun parents do all the things cool parents do, just without the kids or in front of the kids and tell them not to. We still drink and swear. We just don’t let our kids or their friends do it when we’re around. 

Our kids don’t think we’re cool and we’re cool with that. 

When I was a kid the cool parents were usually the divorced parents. They were either trying to score points over their ex or too preoccupied starting over to care about their last family. 

I remember thinking it was cool that we could drink in my friend’s basement because here mom was upstairs with her boyfriend. At the same time I remember there was something kind of creepy about it too. 

The only thing worse than the cool parents, are the uptight parents. They give us a hard time for not dialing it down because we have kids. They’re worried about sending the wrong message, that it’s hypocritical to have fun while telling our kids they can’t. It’s a double-standard.

To which I say, well no shit. Of course it’s a double-standard. The double-standard is the only thing that makes being an adult better than being a kid. Without it, we’re equals and who wants that? I remember being a kid and thinking how I’ll do everything I’ve been told I can’t do as soon as I’m old enough.

Q in my Queue

Quincy | Netflix Official Site

Quincy | Netflix Official Site

This documentary profiles music and culture icon Quincy Jones, offering unprecedented access to his private life and stories from his unparalleled career.

Source: www.netflix.com/title/80102952


I started watching this last night on Netflix. it’s decent, as far as documentaries go. It’s worth watching just to see the depth and breadth of Quincy Jone’s work. His name is on everything from the 60s through 80s.

Trent Reznor worked at Apple?

Trent Reznor Describes Working at Apple Music

Trent Reznor Describes Working at Apple Music

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor opened up about working at Apple Music in a Stereogum interview published Friday (Oct. 19).

Source: www.billboard.com/articles/business/streaming/8481713/trent-reznor-why-he-left-apple-music


I had no idea Trent Reznor worked at Apple.

Below is a pretty funny quote from Reznor from the article…

I think my awareness that most of that job comes down to product design and marketing and thinking about what the consumer wants felt at odds with the artist in me

It’s not ha-ha funny. It’s more, what in the hell did he expect? Dude it’s a job.

For most people getting a job at Apple would make them cooler. However, wasn’t Trent Reznor supposedly cool already? So why was he even looking for a job in the first place?

Everyone knows if you’re in a band and need cash to make ends meet you work at Trader Joe’s.

Exit Sandberg

It’€™s time for Silicon Valley to outgrow its Sheryl Sandbergs

It’s time for Silicon Valley to outgrow its Sheryl Sandbergs

Sheryl Sandberg had been working at Facebook for just 13 days the first time we sat down for an interview. That was back in 2008, when the four-year-old start-up defined itself by the messy ways of a college dorm.

Source: www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-time-silicon-valley-outgrow-sheryl-sandbergs-jessi-hempel/


Okay, stop.

Tech reporters consistently contribute to the myth making of executives without out a hint of skepticism on their way up. Advertising as a business model is not a breakthrough. In most cases it’s the thing most tech startups hoped to avoid, but accept when the suits start calling the shots.

People were still writing puff pieces about Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg while those two were hatching the deceptive plans that are now being exposed. Facebook’s actions under their watch have had a significantly negative impact on the world, and any good that came from her being a woman in the C-Suite is just a trivial artifact at this point. The outcome of all this is a net negative on the rest of us.

This is not a new problem. Bad things happen when people are paid to do bad things. The problem is the mere existence of obscenely overcompensated executives (much of that fueled by the obsequious business press and hero worship). There should be less of these, not more women or men trying to fill the role.