Greetings readers! It has been quite some time since I’ve last communicated with you… heading into the dog days of summer as the blockbusters of June and July waned into the dumping ground of bad film that is August, I felt the need to retreat into my “Blahg Fortress of Hubris and Solitude” (the picture above is not an “actual” photo of my secret fortress, but a close facsimile… mine has a better color scheme) for a while and spend some quality time with my family, some friends, a couple of small critters, a cannibal, an army of helper monkeys, and a stegosaurus with a saddle.
But now I have returned to what it is we call “civilization” and feel like I should catch everybody up on what has been going on in my life and the pop cultural landscape as I see it. Where to begin…
Exercise and Netflix
The majority of what I said above is completely false, I’ll leave that up to you to figure out what is real and what is not (hint: the last item is true)… what is most certainly true has been my need to begin a new exercise regimen and to curb my appetite. Apparently, a forty year old man can no longer sit around playing video games and eating like a seventeen year old and reasonably expect to remain thin and in shape. No, instead, I removed the clothing that had begun to drape over the elliptical machine Mrs. Blahg and I purchased over a year and a half ago (full disclosure, Mrs. Blahg removed said clothing and was the first to get motivated) and finally jumped on that thing and began shedding some pounds… approximately ten pounds to be exact.
I began listening to music while Nordic-Tracking myself into a shape other than round… that didn’t work well, different tempos meant different running speeds… turns out, Adele and her heartbreak don’t make for good exercise music. Then I figured catching up on the podcasts I never got around to… that worked for a while… but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the timer. Eventually, I realized that I live in 2012 and have an iPad where I could finally catch up on some of the television shows I have been itching to watch via Netflix. Lo and behold… I found what works for me!
So what did I choose to watch? With the series finale pending, I realized that now was the time to finally watch Breaking Bad, and I believe that may have been the best choice imaginable. I’m not going to get into any detail here (I’m sure I’ll write something when the second half of the final season begins and/or ends), but damn… that is one hell of a great show. If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad you really need to carve out some time for yourself to watch this. If I didn’t have small children at the time the show began (I still have them, they just aren’t as small) I would have been all over this…
Sadly, I have fallen off of the exercise wagon a few weeks ago and have slid a bit on my improved diet. I will jump back on that medieval torture device soon enough.
As I mentioned earlier… August is the dumping ground for crap. I had high hopes for Paranorman when I first heard of it and saw the trailers, but was somewhat disappointed. It was a fine kids movie… but I was hoping for an actual horror and zombie movie for children… instead we got a somewhat pedestrian ghost story. It looked pretty, it was made by Laika, the same production company that made Coraline, but it simply did not have the same backbone of a great story behind it. You can make it look like Neil Gaiman, but I found it lacking.
Other than that, I have skipped all other films in the theaters. I did get the Blu-ray of Jaws… which is awesome… but that probably goes without saying.
Last month was the fifth Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco… Mrs. Blahg and I attended the first two festivals with mixed results (Radiohead and Beck the first year… Beastie Boys cancelling and being replaced by Tenacious D the next) and decided to return after seeing the lineup. Although I am not a fan of festivals in general, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Not only did I see a number of great performances, but I ran into an old friend the first day who I have not seen in about 12 years. A pure treat.
So who did I see? The first day was Beck, The Walkmen, Foo Fighters, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Beck was incredible as always… I discovered why Mrs. Blahg loves The Walkmen so much… they remind me of a mix of LCD Soundsystem and New Order, two of her faves… Foo Fighters won me over in a big way, incredible performers with an insatiable energy and the desire to please. I did not stay through all of Neil Young‘s performance. If it was him with a guitar doing some of his hits, I would have dug that… instead it was him and Crazy Horse jamming on stage playing songs I did not recognize and had the air of old-timers in high-waisted jeans with tucked in t-shirts at a county fair. Yes, he’s a legend… respect… but what a snooze-fest.
The second day of the festival we skipped out on completely. Metallica was headlining that night, and from everything I heard, that was the show of the weekend… but we aren’t big metal-heads, so we took a day off. Honestly, my legs were sore from that first day, which was also my excuse for not going on the elliptical that weekend and beginning my exercise-death-spiral.
The third day was good… we met up with a friend of ours (hi Shannon), hit the beer tents often (Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler is a great autumn brown ale… my new autumnal favorite), and jumped around quite a bit… missing a couple of acts I wanted to see (Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand [saw some of that]), seeing one that was a complete disappointment (Electric Guest), one band who I hadn’t heard of yet now love (Santigold), and the topper for the weekend… the great Stevie Wonder.
Honestly, it was seeing Stevie Wonder on the list of artists that made me agree to purchase the three day passes. A living legend… and sadly, we left early. We were there at the beginning… everything seemed to be going well… then he began preaching a bit from the pulpit… then he had everyone in the crowd sing the songs (I paid to hear him, not the knucklehead next to me who can’t carry a tune)… each song was taking about 15 minutes… then he sat down at the keyboards and played some of the slower songs from the 80’s. Where were the 70’s hits? Hell… I would take some of the earlier stuff as well… but Mrs. Blahg and our friend were not amused… especially when he got up and began grinding up on his backup singers. I know he recently split from his wife, but damn… that was just uncomfortable to watch.
Now… before I get any hate mail… I love Stevie. I would have stayed the whole time. His voice was amazing, the show was just getting started, and like I said… he is a living legend. But I acquiesced, and we left. Adding insult to injury, I could hear all the songs I wanted to hear as we walked back to my car, dejected and a bit saddened. Such is life…
Special honor must go to Farmerbrown’s fried chicken… best fried chicken ever. Period.
A week after Outside Lands, we drove down to visit my parents who live in Southern California and made our requisite trip to Disneyland. Usually we stay with my parents, but my mom’s half brother was staying at their place so I decided that three elderly people, two kids, and Mrs. Blahg and myself would make for a very crowded home, so we stayed at a hotel about a mile from the park.
The hotel was fine… some funny aspects to it… visiting my parents was fine… and Disneyland was Disneyland. We did 15 1/2 hours… we were tired, sore, and happy as could be. I want to go into some detail about this trip and a few thoughts I had about D-Land and the people who visit, so I think I will reserve that for another post. What I can quickly say is that the new Matterhorn bobsleds suck and the new Star Tours is fucking awesome… plus the park’s dining has improved greatly.
More on all of that later…
I have a couple of podcasts I’d like to review soon that have made their way into my rotation. I’ve already reviewed Pop Culture Happy Hour and WTF with Marc Maron twice and now that I’ve been on The Walking Deadcast I can’t really review the best zombie related podcast in existence without coming off as a bit biased, because I am… but I have a few others I listen to that I will be happy to share, such as Judge John Hodgman and Jay and Jack’s Ramblecast.
I’ll close out this post by quickly dipping my toes into the political shark tank and hope I can retain my footing. As you all may know, I love election years. I don’t seem to be enjoying this election year. It’s not that I’m unhappy with my candidate (for those who are reading for the first time, I am a member of the Democratic Party), I’m just getting a bit annoyed with how our political landscape looks lately.
I have always believed that politics is a game of nuance and finesse… an art of compromise and working together for the betterment of our fellow citizens (I know I sound naive). Instead, these days we must deal with entrenched dogma, prejudice, hatred, and two political parties who appear to exist in two different realms of reality with each side claiming the other is detached from reality. I have always thrown my hat into the ring siding with things like science, compassion, equality, and peace… others seem to be throwing their hats into a ring that believes in fairy-tales, greed, segregation, and hate (and guns… lots and lots of guns). I’m sure that could be read by either side and they would believe I’m talking about the other… but as Neil DeGrasse Tyson is fond of pointing out (paraphrasing of course), the best thing about facts is that they are facts whether you believe in them or not.
For as much as I have to say regarding politics, I have almost nothing to actually say that doesn’t just sound like an echo chamber. The talking points are all the same on this side of thing… the talking points on the other side are in an echo chamber as well… there is little wiggle room and I believe the options are clear. I know many who believe both parties are full of shit and they are both one in the same. All I know at this point is that for as much as I have to say… I have nothing to add.
Last night, it was brought to my attention that someone had posted a review on iTunes for The Walking Deadcast… the best zombie related podcast in existence… this person gave it a 1 star review and stated that it was because of their mention of liberal politics, and specifically because they had me, a left-wing blogger with a left-wing agenda (his words) on their show. He let them know he had unsubscribed. For the record, the only time politics came up when I was on the podcast was when I was asked why I began this here blog. That was it. So apparently, this fellow went to this here blog (mrblahg.com, thank you for reading) and read what I have to say. Of the last 10 posts, only 2 were political at all, one just being a commentary of the Aurora, CO shooting. In fact, I’ve only posted 26 political posts out of 336 total… that’s only ~7.7% of the total… I don’t see how that defines me. Why wasn’t I referred to as a movie-loving blogger (~25%) or a book-reading blogger (~8.6%), seems a bit narrow.
I have some mixed emotions over this. On one hand, I feel horrible that I had anything to do with their losing of a listener… on the other hand, what the fuck is wrong with people who would dislike someone or something based on their associations and their political leanings? We were discussing Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead… now this person has become fodder for my amusement and I wish to publicly apologize to Jason and Karen for having cost them a prejudicial ass-wipe of a listener who would go out of his way to give a bad review because he doesn’t like that we have opinions that don’t mesh with his.
Which segues very nicely into what I read today… apparently the pizza restaurant owner who bear hugged the president the other day got his business trolled on Yelp by people giving 1 star reviews because the owner was nice to the president. Is this what the right-wing considers activism? Is this how they wish to get their beliefs across? Criticizing businesses and entertainments that don’t share in their specific view? Before fowl (purposeful misspelling) is called with regards to Chik-fil-A, that was a specific opinion regarding rights, not just for hugging the president or being liberal… or being associated with a “known” liberal.
To tie a neat little bow on that particular issue, I watched a great documentary last night on the life of Jerome Robbins, a dancer and choreographer who worked on such films as West Side Story and The King and I. He was a closeted homosexual who was cajoled into testifying and ratting out others during the McCarthy hearings. A great artist who was screwed over, and screwed others over, because he could simply not be who he was. Is this what “the good old days” the GOP are fond of saying they want back something we would really want? I for one choose progress over regression every time.
Well… that about sums up what I did on my summer vacation. It’s time to shutter the windows and turn off the gas in my “Blahg Fortress of Hubris and Solitude” and return to my regularly scheduled life. Expect to see more from me in the near and distant future.
Oh… and before I forget… August 18th was the 2nd birthday of Cornelius J. Blahg and mrblahg.com. That was also the day I spent 15 1/2 hours at Disneyland in 90+ degree heat, happy birthday to me.
Ground control to Mr. Blahg,
Cornelius J. Blahg