Jul 192018
  • There was a $470 space on the big Press Your Luck board. Seemed like a conspicuously clunky number in a world of $200, $500, $1000, and so forth. I always wondered if there was a story behind it.
  • Tried one of those magnetic clips for my Fitbit Flex 2 and lost it the first day. Guess that answers that question. I put it in the watch pocket of my jeans when I wear them and that works well, but when I wear slacks I’ve worn the wrist strap, and I want to get away from that. I guess I’ll just clip my Zip when I don’t wear jeans.
  • I’ve had enough of the “you’re doing it wrong” trend in how-to articles, recipes, and so forth. You know what I’m talking about? Instead of just teaching you a new way to do something, they scold you in the headline to rile you into clicking on them. Here’s a good example. Hey, content writers and marketers? You’re doing it wrong.
  • I’ve only been to our Cabela’s once, but I found it thoroughly obnoxious just how freakin’ far I had to drive to get to it. It feels like there’s a serpentine whole ‘nother mile after you turn off Governors West onto “Cabela’s Dr.” Well, Melanie told me at lunch today that you could get to it from Madison Pike via Quality Circle. Enthusiastically noted.
  • We got the Mr. Rogers movie in town. I want to see it, but this is a good example of something I don’t think is worth a cinema experience. Potential for big sights and big sounds seems minimal. At home, on my couch? Yes, please. (Plus, there’ll be no crying in public then either.)
  • My pleasure reading has fallen off badly. I’ll make it a point to pick back up this weekend.
  • The food blogger tour ahead of Huntsville Restaurant Week is coming up! Watch for content everywhere you see me.
 Posted by at 4:55 pm
Jul 192018

Lea and I are just back from Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at the VBC Concert Hall. This was one I pounced on right when it went on sale, so we’ve been holding the tickets for almost four months. Pat Benatar was one of my very first favorites, and as it turns out, this was the first time she’s played Huntsville.

The show began with a brief documentary on Pat’s and Neil’s music careers, including their 1982 marriage and its effects. Then, it’s into a straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll show, with guitar on stage right a la Cheap Trick. (I guess I remember that from MTV videos, now that I think about it.)

Neil occasionally plays piano, and the bassist and drummer get a couple of acoustic numbers off.

The 85-minute set was:

All Fired Up
We Live for Love
Promises in the Dark
We Belong
Hell Is For Children
You Better Run
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Love Is a Battlefield

Everybody Lay Down

“Heartbreaker” was full of assorted noodling around—pieces of “Ring of Fire,” “Purple Haze,” and what-not, as well as a blistering solo from Neil.

The quality of the performance was generally excellent, with disciplined rhythm and reasonable fidelity to the nuances of the album versions of the songs.

Vocally, she had to cheat just a little on a few higher parts (most notably “Promises” right before the break), but there was no loss of showmanship whatsoever. All of the songs were played in the same keys in which they were originally recorded, which is important to me (and hardly a given anymore, particularly with older acts). Between having to sing a measure or two of alternate melody and kicking the entire song down, I strongly prefer the former. And there was a touch of recorded accompaniment, but not much. It was probably most noticeable on “Love Is a Battlefield,” which in addition to synths, needs it to add expected voice effects.

The set hits me as just a little light for a full-price headliner with no opener, though. I think ten more minutes, maybe?

There are a couple of would-have-been-nices missing. She won a Grammy for “Fire and Ice,” for example, and “Sex As a Weapon” was a Top 30 hit. But the big omission is “Shadows of the Night.” Featuring one of the first truly cinematic music videos, it was a huge song, with even more impact than its #13 peak on the Hot 100 would indicate. I would have called that a slam-dunk in any full-up Pat Benatar set. But, it is what it is.

In addition to being veteran rockers, Pat and Neil are an adorable married couple. She calls him Spyder, and he called her Patricia Mae at least once. The exchanged glances and pats are fun and genuine. And they carry the star’s burden well, realizing that this 1400th time they’re playing a hit might be the only time you ever hear it live and making it memorable.

This was not a transcendental live music experience for me, but it was very good—definitely worth the time and money spent. If Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo are part of your musical mosaic as they are mine, then make the effort.

 Posted by at 12:26 am
Jul 152018

(No spoilers.)

I finished Black Mirror last week (well, all of the 19 episodes available so far). It’s an anthology series a lot like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, only a little more constrained in that all Black Mirror episodes are set in a (very) near future, and all feature technology prominently.

It’s a great treadmill show, rewarding the level of attention I can pay while doing such (sustained, if not meticulous). And, because all of the episodes are self-contained, there’s no cliffhanger or other continuation overhead. I’m looking forward to more episodes, but I don’t have anything to remember. I appreciate that. I’m not sure how many different shows for which I have the mental bandwidth to maintain to-be-continued slots, but I’m certain it’s a relatively small number.

If you hear anything consistent about the show, it’s that it’s dark. Yeah, it usually is. The Twilight Zone usually was too. I’m not sure how a show like this could be interesting and not be dark. Think about it. Can you write gotcha or that’s-so-creepy scripts about self-actualized people in innocuous settings?

Some are darker than others, to be sure, but the strongest examples are among the darkest television programming I’ve ever seen. Mostly, this is not a happy show. Yet, nothing hung with me unpleasantly. I’m not sure Black Mirror would be a good choice for a turbulent time in your life, though.

I didn’t see a single episode I didn’t enjoy. I was always engaged. Sometimes I correctly predicted what was coming; other times I did not. Still other times it never occurred to me to try. There are a few examples of episode-to-episode similarities, but mostly each one has its own feel.

There’s a major logjam in the runner-up position, but my favorite episode is San Junipero.

 Posted by at 11:13 pm
Jul 122018
  • I only have the final available episode of Black Mirror remaining. I’ve really enjoyed these. I hope there is another season soon.
  • The best-selling single of all-time is Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” and with a lead of 17 million over Elton John’s tribute to Diana in second, it looks unlikely to ever be toppled. Bing Crosby is also #3 with “Silent Night.” Tenth is “My Heart Will Go On.” Twentieth is “Y.M.C.A.” Fiftieth is “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”
  • The “Show Mode” arrived on my Fire HD10 last night. I didn’t know it was going to do that if I didn’t have the dock. When I use the stand on my case, it’s upside down. Haven’t explored whether there are remedies for this yet. Not sure I care.
  • The most impressive IndyCar rookie this year is easily likable Canadian Robert Wickens, who has driven his guts out every race but never quite come up with a podium, for this reason or that. Keep an eye on him this Sunday (NBCSN, 2 pm CDT). (Correction: He did have two podiums—a second and a third—early in the season.)
  • Judas Priest’s Point of Entry has been a lot of my soundtrack this week. It’s kind of a forgotten gem between the two biggest albums of Priest’s career, British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance. I think it’s held up well.
  • The little respite from the humidity the other day was nice. Sadly, kids, it’s another month before we can realistically begin hoping for relief, and another two before it becomes likely.
  • I told you about the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force’s showing of 8 Days, right? See you Tuesday, July 24!
 Posted by at 5:01 pm
Jul 112018

I don’t like to discuss my health in detail publicly, so I generally don’t. But I’ve learned something over the past couple of weeks that I think might be valuable for others, so I want to share it.

I had minor, but persistent, symptoms that seemed consistent with angina over the past couple of months. Not having lived my life with, shall we say, the greatest care, and carrying a piss-poor family history besides, it behooved me to get it checked out.

So I had a nuclear stress test last week. And the doctor said this all looks great. Could be any of several things going on to cause your symptoms, but I’m pretty confident it’s not your heart.

So I’m supposed to see my GP next month, and I planned to discuss an approach with her.

Except now I’m not going to because guess what? The symptoms have vanished. Poof. They were daily and predictable. Now they are completely absent.

Anxiety’s a bitch. Make sure she hasn’t taken up residence and made herself at home before you decide something serious is wrong with you.

 Posted by at 9:55 am
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