Matt Damon in space, a review.

The Martian. The title "Matt Damon in space" didn't do well with the test audiences....

The Martian. The title “Matt Damon in space” didn’t do well with the test audiences….

For the handful of you that follow me here, you likely saw my recent review of the book The Martian by Andy Weir. Well, they made it into a movie starring Matt Damon, and I saw that shit last night. Now keep in mind that I nitpick the fuck outta stuff, and it’s difficult for me to be objective about something I have strong feelings about. This book is definitely something I have strong feelings about, since I really loved it. Ok, enough bullshitting, let’s get down to some reviewing.

As far as the story goes, the movie doesn’t really deviate in any significant way from the book. Of course, they left shit out, because if they didn’t the movie would be insanely long. The stuff they left out wasn’t really mission critical, and I’m mostly ok with it. The characters are also mostly on point. Only a small number of them weren’t really the same. The acting in the movie was great, and the plot moved along well with some great pacing and suspense. The special effects were absolutely first rate, and there are some really great visuals and scenes.

Now, my nitpicking. SPOILERS!!!! The character interactions weren’t really fleshed out as well as I’d have liked. There was a lot of book crammed into the movie, but a lot of the relationships between characters just wasn’t really dug into in the movie, so those who didn’t read the book wouldn’t know or feel as deep of a connection. Also, the characters themselves weren’t as well developed. It felt a little like many of them were kinda shallow, due to only a lack of screen time and dialogue. All are great actors, but only Watney and Lewis were really dug into. The rest played their parts, but they seemed more like plot devices than actual relatable characters. The book did NOT suffer from these problems at all. Some of the changes they made didn’t seem to make much sense, either. For instance (SPOILER) when Mitch sends the coded message to the Hermes crew with the course settings, and Teddy confronts him about it, he doesn’t cop to it, and Teddy doesn’t demand his resignation. This seemed like a pointless change, as I don’t feel it did anything to further plot or character development. The actor they originally had for Venkat Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, could not do the movie due to scheduling conflicts, and I think he’d have been absolutely fantastic. He was in Jurassic World, and he was fucking great in that. Chiwetel Ejiofor did a good job, but my imagining of Irrfan in that role gave him tough shoes to fill. Also, they really underused Annie, played by Kristen Wiig. She was an awesome and hilarious character, and Kristen is both awesome and hilarious. Seemed like a win-win, but she just didn’t have the lines or screen time to really shine. Those scenes where she did, she did it well, but I’d have liked to have had more. Apart from that, I’d have done the movie more like the book, where Watney was recounting what happened during the day, and acted it out with a voiceover instead of long scenes of him doing stuff with no dialogue. During many of those, I kept thinking how much time was being wasted that could’ve been used for his excellent comedic delivery. They also let most of the science take a back seat, where it was fully in the foreground of the book through the entire journey.

Now, I know you’re probably taking this as a negative review, but keep in mind that I’d have wanted a movie that would’ve either not come off well for those who didn’t read the book, or would’ve been impossible to make. All in all, the movie really is fantastic, and if you’re a fan of science fiction, you do yourself a disservice by not seeing it. I’m just having issues getting past the fact that I built it up insanely high in my head, to a level that would be extremely improbable to deliver, and it didn’t deliver as I’d hoped. It’s ok, though. I still have the movie, and the book, I just wish there was more movie. Maybe a director’s cut.

TL:DR It was good, left out some stuff, and you should go watch it.

Yelp for humans, and why many of us will hate it

Better of calling it Soylent....

Better of calling it Soylent….

There’s an app coming out soon called Peeple. Best way to think of this is to call it Yelp for people. You rate individuals with this app, and can also leave reviews about them as well. While some may think this is great, and it’ll lead to people either feeling empowered and affirmed, or feeling good about the constructive criticisms for self betterment, I tend to be far less optimistic. Perhaps it’s because I’m an asshole. No, it’s cool, I can admit it, I really am an asshole. While this knowledge is no surprise to me, and even though I freely admit it, that doesn’t mean it would make me feel affirmed or empowered to read other people going off about how much of a jerk I am. Confused? I’ll explain.

Pretty much...

Pretty much…

I tend to come off a certain way to people. I say horrible things, create awkward situations, and am generally a jerk. Aside from that, however, I try to be helpful, supportive, and caring. I know, it sounds weird. My problem, at least the way I see it, is that I have impulse control issues. Truth be told, I feel that I’m actually a good person deep down, but I can’t help myself from saying and doing horrible things. All area the result of the childhood I had, and the mark some shit from back then left on me. Yes, I’ve been to therapy, and it did help. Believe it or not, I was WAY worse before. Some things, however, are too deeply rooted to be dealt with, aside from a lobotomy. So yes, I know I’m an asshole, and I’m aware that it prevents me from being who I could’ve been, but it’s not something I’ve been able to resolve. It gives me grief, and keeps old wounds fresh, and the LAST fucking thing I need is for people to have an open forum to publicly shame me. That won’t help me, or make me feel great, and it won’t help the kids in school whose peers will do the same for stupid petty reasons. This WILL be an avenue for bullying, I guarantee it.

Not all attention is good attention....

Not all attention is good attention….

See, more people deal with depression, anxiety, social anxiety, impostor syndrome,  and other disorders on a daily basis. These aren’t simple things to cope with, and they make every day a fight. I am one of those people. I fight an unending war inside every day, and seldom does an hour go by where I don’t hate myself or feel worthless and shitty for one reason or another. Now I’ll basically have a wikipedia page with a comments section, where I’ll have a mix of nice comments (those written by the Lish) and awful comments (those written by most others). What makes this even worse, you ask? Employment. That’s right, see, you can’t opt out of being rated and reviewed, and it’s all public information, so potential employers can also look you up and see what kind of person other people think you are. Shit like this will become a staple of background checks.  Also, how do you think gay or trans people will fare, especially when they’re in school? The bullying of them is bad enough on Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat. Do we really need a more permanent avenue?

Or the willful turning of a blind eye to said information...

Or the willful turning of a blind eye to said information…

While on the surface, the Polyanna folks running this shit may feel this is a great idea, I don’t share the sentiment. Sure, there will be people who will be uplifted by what their close friends and family may write about them, but this is the real world. For anyone considered “different” or “weird”, this is a nightmare of an idea. I was ridiculed enough throughout my entire life to make me honestly feel like a worthless and terrible person, regardless of any achievements or encouragement or affirmations of the opposite by those around me. I doubt I’ll ever feel differently, even though the logical part of my brain can see that sometimes it’s completely unwarranted. If this was a thing when I was a kid, things may have gone a very different path, and I can see that it would’ve been far worse. Who knows, perhaps this will be a wonderful thing, full of sunshine and rainbows and other cool goody goody shit. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, a paranoia brought on by my cynicism, a cynicism born from years of being put down and treated like shit. It’s certainly a possibility, but I honestly doubt it…

Yay!

Yay!

When this atrocity does launch, if you want, send me your name and I’ll post a phenomenal review of you, about how you saved babies and kittens and old people from a burning ship on the ocean, and swam them all to safety while formulating a cure for cancer and writing a hit pop song.

Book Report: The Martian, by Andy Weir

Go read this! Don't even bother reading my shitty blog!!!

Go read this! Don’t even bother reading my shitty blog!!!

Apart from reviewing Ready Player One awhile ago, I haven’t really delved into book reviews. This isn’t to say I rarely read books, as I have been an audible subscriber for the past 5 years and I have over 90 books in my library on it. Of those, there are maybe 5 or 6 that I haven’t listened to yet, mainly because they’re either new or insanely long (I’m looking at you, Stephen King, Mr 40+ hours per audiobook!). I only really feel the urge to review a book when it really surprises me, and The Martian did exactly that. Don’t worry, I won’t diatribe long, especially since I don’t wanna give anything away.

Awhile back, I discovered RPO, and felt obligated to spread it to just about everyone I know. One of those people is responsible for making me check out The Martian. From the blurb I read about it, I really wasn’t all that intrigued. In fact, I thought this would be a snooze-fest, similar to what I encountered when I dealt with Heinlein. Yeah, I know, he’s one of THE science fiction writers, but his writing style kinda sucked. Sometimes it’d be a great page turner, while other times if felt like I was being dragged through sand. So imagine my surprise when I got into The Martian and found myself hooked from chapter 1. The book, if you’ve never heard of it, is about an astronaut who became stranded during a manned mission to Mars in the future. Shit happened, his crew had to leave him, and he had to figure out how to survive until the next planned mission arrived…4 years later. The journey the reader is taken on is one of science, fear, failure, success, and a multitude of other happenings and emotions. The vast majority of the book is from the stranded astronaut’s (Mark Watney) point of view, while the remainder is mostly NASA, with some other smatterings thrown in.

The book itself is very science oriented. He talks a lot about the equipment they have, the stuff he does, and the chemistry, botany, physics, etc involved. While this sounds boring as fuck (and to some, it might be), I found this all awesome! How? Well, I’m glad you didn’t ask. Because Watney is a fucking awesome character. He’s smart, clever, and absolutely hilarious. His humor totally makes the story as great as it is, made even more spectacular by the fantastic talent of R. C. Bray, who performed the audiobook. His performance was incredible, and the Audie award they won for it was well deserved. Anyways, apart from Watney, the other characters of significance in the book were well fleshed out and excellent. I really did end up on the edge of my seat for parts of it, and never really felt like anything was overdone or underdone. As someone who took lots of science classes almost 20 years ago, the science involved was pretty accurate, as far as sci-fi goes. Some bits had some holes in it, but you’d really have to know certain things to point them out, so it didn’t really detract for me.

I could go on and on fellating this book, but for fucks sake you should just go and read that shit now! Stop reading my tripe, it’s garbage in comparison. Sure, it ends with everyone dying, but it’s still a great book…shit, I mean SPOILER ALERT!

In closing, all I really need to say is that, in my opinion, my friend and I are now even…Enjoy!

Who IS that guy?

Many people are aware of Facebook’s rules for using your real name. For them, people using nicknames or stage names or whatever, screws up their metrics for farming personal information and selling it, so they enforce a policy where only real names are allowed. They have, however, made exceptions for this by allowing the stage names of performers. This, as far as I know, has only really applied to drag queens, since they started a whole public kerfuffle about this causing FB to cave in rather than get publicly smeared or whatever. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to apply to pretty much anyone else.

I like to keep my anonymity online as much as possible, and part of that was having my name on FB be Persona Non Grata, which matches all of my other sites such as this one, youtube, google+, etc. Also, I use this name as my stage name for all my bands. This caused my account to get flagged awhile back, saying it wasn’t my real name. I was able to get by it by re-entering the name with a slightly different format, but last night I got hit again, and this one really sucks. They require me to upload images of my personal identification, such as a license, credit card, social security card, etc, as well as change over to my legal name. I sent them a message stating that I use my stage name online, as this is how most people know me. Many only know me by that name. I included screenshots of the band FB pages showing that PNG is, in fact, used across the board. My account is currently suspended, awaiting review. It’s sad that it comes to this, especially when I’ve tried to contact their support before, only to find out that they have no actual support desk. You have an issue? Post it to the forums for other users to comment on. If you wait for them to respond personally, you’ll wait forever. Apparently, this is the only way to have anyone review an issue.

I really hope they make the right choice, and allow me to continue using FB for my music and to stay connected with those in the community. If they don’t, I may just end up saying fuck it and deleting my FB account. We’ll see.

Finding the right pub

Finding the right pub is one of the most important things in life. It’s something that can happen right away, or take quite some time. The key part here is to find a good location, with a good atmosphere and people you can really relate to. The establishment should be run well, and those in charge should have a clear focus on doing their best to ensure everyone has a good time and enjoys themselves, while also having a good time themselves. It’s also very important to have an open environment, where anyone can voice concerns to the management or others in the bar and work out any issues without it resulting in a fight where the cops have to be called, or worse, an ambulance.

However, the MAJOR key here is the people. People who GET you. People who are there for a variety of reasons, but value having a good time and letting go of the crap in their daily lives. People who can give you advice, or listen to yours with an open mind and respect your opinions. Not at all an easy thing to find. For me, one of the biggest things is feeling not only accepted there, but wanted there. Those at the bar, people I respect and whose company I enjoy, wanting me to come down there as often as possible simply because they enjoy my company, is one of those things I find incredibly important. Along with that, truly being appreciated for who I am and any help I give is also huge. For me, these things are important for reasons that many who know me don’t really know about. I was one of those who never really had this. Most people, during the majority of my life, were….less than accepting of me. I was mostly disliked by my peers, with the exception of the choice few, and even then only very few gave enough of a shit to really try to understand me and value what I brought to the friendship table. Many times I was just treated like the entertainment. I was the dancing monkey, the court jester, and everything in between. So, because of this, I never really had a place where I felt like I fit in. I could adapt to sort of fit here or there, but it never really felt right. It was like being a multifaceted key, where one side would fit one thing, but the other sides wouldn’t fit it at all. It made being in certain groups both fun and taxing at the same time. A few groups fired on more than one cylinder, but not many, and most times it wasn’t the core cylinders that really matter. This all changed, of course, when I found just the right pub.

Now, I can let myself be me, and not only is it ok, but it’s enjoyed…sought after, even. Sure, I have had friends before who felt this way, but having people who are virtually strangers to me feel this way has had a slightly different effect, and this little difference ended up making all the difference (fuckin A, I use that word a LOT!). This isn’t to say that my friends aren’t as important, or haven’t helped me and healed me in ways, because they absolutely have. This is more to say that even though you have great friends, finding a group of people who know fuck all about me, and having them not only welcome me but want me around, despite me really being myself around them, heals a very deep and very old wound inside. A wound that’s never started truly healing because of how specific it is, and how rare the treatment for it is. Finding the pub you can call home really really doesn’t have much to do with the alcohol, since you can find that in a variety of other places, or even on your own. I can go elsewhere and have scotch, or learn about rum, or whatever. But that right pub will make all of it so much better, so much more gratifying, and more fulfilling than any self discovery of such things. I finally feel like I found mine, and hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing this. I can not only be myself, but I can be who I want to be when I’m there. I can genuinely be me, all beliefs and thoughts intact, and all core cylinders firing. It’s a freedom of sorts, and I’m diggin’ it right now, so much so that I take great pleasure in giving back in any way I can. Truth be told, even if something does happen to fuck it up, at the very least it will have given me hope that this is something that CAN be healed, and that’s far more than a scarred and beat up cynic like me could have ever hoped for. For that, I will remain eternally thankful.

Movin’ on out

No, that isn't actually us. My boobs are way bigger than his.

No, that isn’t actually us. My boobs are way bigger than his…

For the past few years, the Lish and I have been discussing and debating what to do about our house. We’ve lived here quite a few years, but over the years certain things have irked us about it. The list is long, from the poor layout of the house, the washer/dryer being in the tiny kitchen, one child having a bedroom with no windows, to other stuff like high taxes and a less than good school district. We considered renovating the house, but that only solved the bedroom problems, and created more in the way of an extra 3k a year in taxes. In the end, we decided that the time had come to sell our house and look to move elsewhere. Now while this may sound like a win overall, it doesn’t come without its share of ‘ugh’.

home_is_where_our_14x36_vinyl_lettering_wall_quotes_words_sticky_art_b30c052e

So much of our story did…

You see, this is the house we made our HOME. Many years ago, I suffered through a bad anxiety disorder, and we went through some really bad times. It was in this house that I really found my footing. We started our family here, and it’s all the Beast and the Peanutty have ever known. We said hello to another, our Sully man, and goodbye to both Sully and Cosmo. (both are dogs, in case you’re new here). We’ve had epic parties, amazing BBQs, and a shitload of great times. We really made this place our own, and most would agree that our house is very “us”. So many mornings were spent chilling out in the sky chair on the back porch in the summertime, having our coffee, just talking. So many summer days spent in the yard with the kids, hanging out in the kiddie pool. Easter egg hunts. Christmas morning. Birthdays. Joys, and sorrows, celebrations and solemn occasions. We did it all in almost a decade of living here.

For me to say that I’m very sentimental and emotional would be an egregious understatement. I tend to hold onto things and not let them go, many times for purely sentimental reasons. People say that no matter what, you always have the memories. Problem is, my memory has issues, lots of them actually. My long term memory is plagued with vast holes where I can’t remember anything, even if shown pictures or told stories. What makes it easier for me is to physically be in that location. At that moment, the memories flood back to me, and for someone with a problem like that it’s almost like a drug. I get a rush from it. Once we leave, though, I won’t have that opportunity anymore. The wonderful memories will sift through my fingers like so much sand, as if I was a 4th dimensional being, lost forever as they disappear through the cracks in the floor. There is so much I’ll miss, so much I’ll likely never have again, and some things I will lose. Chances are I’ll have to sell off a few of my arcade cabs and pins, hopefully I won’t have to sell all of them. I also highly doubt I’ll find a place with a covered back porch where I can put the sky chair, or a yard with such privacy in such a quiet area.

Ugh, got me in ma feely bits...

Ugh, got me in ma feely bits…

Sounds like a fuckin’ falcon punch to the feely parts, right? Well don’t worry, there IS a silver lining here. First, we’ll end up in a better school district. We’ll also likely end up paying less in taxes for a slightly larger house. The kids will have a play room with their toys in it, instead of just the one common area in the house where all of everyone’s shit ends up. We won’t have to do the laundry in the fucking kitchen anymore. Peanutty will have WINDOWS in his bedroom, and natural light and stuff. We’ll likely be on a street that actually gets plowed consistently in the winter, instead of me having to do it with my snowblower all the time. Our kids can ride their bikes around the neighborhood and not have to worry about ending up going 100mph down the huge hill we live on, only to crash into the traffic at the cross street. Speaking of which, we won’t have to worry about whether they plowed AND sanded the main road, since it’s so steep that if it wasn’t sanded we’d have to park at the bottom and walk all the way up. We wouldn’t have to worry about the carpenter bees every year, or the odd electrical issues in the house. There really is quite a lot to look forward to. The only problem is keeping that in the forefront of our minds.

When it all comes down to it, we’re grieving in a way. This is the end of an era. We’re leaving a home we love, even though there is so much we dislike about it. It’s still OUR home. We built our lives here together, as a family. The house itself is much like an adopted family member. We poured some of ourselves into making this place our own, making it our family home. When we leave, we leave that part of us behind, buried in the bricks and mortal like a mausoleum for our first true home, one we can no longer visit and pay respects to.

home-is-where-love-resides-memories-are-creathed

With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine any house not being a home in a short amount of time. We certainly have enough love and laughter to fill it!

The other side of this is that the true center of our home, the part that makes it truly “home” for us, is us. Wherever we go, we will make it our home. We will move Bag End to a new location under the hill. We will have more epic parties, more joys and sorrows, more milestones, adventures, and life experiences. It’ll always be us, which we’ve seen when we go on vacation. No matter what, where we stay on vacation always ends up feeling like a home to me, and most of what I long to return to isn’t really the house, it’s the dogs and perhaps some of my stuff or routines. When all is said and done, we will make this work, and we will weather this storm and get through it. Hopefully things work out for the better, and we sell quickly. We’re gonna end up in some debt for sure, but we’d have been in just as much debt if we decided to stay and renovate. At least this way we have a chance to take a step in the right direction. Here’s hoping it all works out for the best!

New York Comicon Woes

nycc-tickets-slide

Don’t bother, folks, unless you hate yourself…

Today, at 12pm Eastern Time, tickets for the NYCC went on sale. We were sure to be online with 2 machines this time, since last year the ticket purchasing process was marred by server queue crashes and session resets. We waited online for almost an hour before we lost our place in line due to this, and the result was that we couldn’t get the multiple day passes like we wanted. This year, we expected that they would’ve addressed the issues and improved the process to prevent this from happening again. Unfortunately, I assumed that they gave a shit. SPOILER ALERT: They absolutely DON’T give a shit whatsoever.

From the get go today, people (myself included) were plagued by issues with the page not loading, or session crashes, resulting in needing to keep hitting refresh for a few minutes until the page finally decided to load. People posted about these issues on the NYCC Facebook page, only to get the generic response of “just refresh the page and you’ll be fine”. No, NYCC, we weren’t fine. We finally got to the ticket selection page, and picked a few 3 day passes for ourselves and a friend. We went through a bunch of bullshit questions and the usual input of info, and clicked complete order. BOOM, “The connection was reset”. Refreshed a few times, and finally it came back, but I was back a few pages and needed to input my info again. Clicked complete order. Connection reset. This happened a few times, until finally I got past that part to the end. Unfortunately, by this point, I only had 23 seconds remaining to fill out my CC info, because Paypal wasn’t working with their servers. This is because the entire time I was getting resets and having to re-enter everything, the fucking clock was still ticking for the reservation!!! Oh, and there were some more bullshit questions on this page too, like “how did you hear of us?”, and “have you attended before?”. So now, by the time it was done, we got the message saying that our reservation timed out, and we lost the tickets. MOTHERFUCKER!!! When it dumped us back to the ticket selection screen, sure enough, the 3 day tickets were sold out and we were boned. We chose to only buy Friday tickets, since after this there was no way in hell I was giving them any more of my money.

Now here’s the thing. You can’t honestly tell me that they don’t have the resources to prevent this from happening. They pull in enough profit to get this shit sorted out, and it’s a comicon, so they have access to plenty of nerds who can properly set this shit up, or at least know of others who can get the job done. Also, they have no response to the people who got screwed out of tickets. I know of one person who posted on their Facebook page that she wanted 2 tickets for Saturday, one for herself and one for her kid, but with all the server fuck ups she ended up with only one ticket, and then it got sold out. No response for her from the NYCC crew. For those who posted about issues with connection resets, the only response was to refresh. If that didn’t work, they just stopped responding. I posted on their page, and they promptly ignored the fuck out of my post, along with most others who had similar issues.

When it all boils down, only one conclusion makes sense. They really don’t give a flying fuck about any of us. As far as they’re concerned, the tickets will sell out whether their servers crap out or not, so why bother investing the time and money to improve anything. With them, it’s only about the money they see raking in. They just hide while people vent their frustrations, and let it subside into the background while they sit and count their money. For me, this will likely be the last year I attend the NYCC. I’ve been at EVERY SINGLE ONE since they started, and supported them over the years, but I’m not gonna keep that up if they stop giving a shit because they don’t need my support anymore. Instead, I’ll stick with smaller venues and events, and to hell with these people. I encourage anyone who reads this to avoid this event like the plague from this point forward. It’s always overcrowded, their organization skills during the even are poor, their ticket purchasing is abysmal, and it’s apparent that they really just don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone in attendance. I’m saddened by all of this, because I’ve always enjoyed attending, but my ethics are important to me, and I refuse to stand behind an organization that has no honor. Sorry, Lance Festerman, but it appears you and your organization have no honor.

Oh, one last thing. All types of passes for this IMMEDIATELY showed up on stubhub following tickets going on sale. It seem that many of the people only bought them to sell them out quickly and resell them at insane prices. This makes our issues trying to legitimately buy tix for ourselves that much worse. It seems the only ones to really benefit from this crap are the resellers and bots….