Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Year in Pictures

Another year gone.

Another year wrap-up in images.

I am trying not to use previously seem pictures, but well, you never know. Some of you have seen some on Facebook or my Instagram, but few, if any, have been shown here.

There are no rules. It might be one pic per month, it might be seven. There are no designations in terms of what's going on here.

My blog, my rules.

January 2019 - Sunrise out my (then) office window. No filter used. No filter needed. (instagram pic)

January 2019 - Outside my office building. Sometimes I'm a simple guy. This made me smile.

 January 2019 - Shep & I outside my great-grandfather's house. It's where my father live upon his birth.

January 2019 - Cold cold winter. Standing on Lake Erie.

February 2019 - My mom getting an IV before her balloon procedure. I had to watch them take 45 minutes to find a vein. It was horrible for all involved. 

February 2019 - Shep is playing a very dangerous game. THAT is Sophie's spot. Sometimes she lets me sleep there too.

March 2019 - I wanted a hair transplant, but didn't want toupee. 

 March 2019 - After walking Shep at Frohring Meadows, we stumbled upon a shoe tree.

March 2019 - I'm a big fan of public art. I love this one.  The artist is Donald Black Jr..  (instagram pic)

 April 2019 - Possibly my fave pic of this year.   ....as seen in NYC.  (instagram pic)

 April 2019 - You didn't expect me to take a pic of something like this and not post it.

April 2019 - NYC. I kind of loved this guy's tatt - and its placement. 

April 2019 - Cashew Later!

 April 2019 - the Vessel. (instagram pic)

April 2019 - dinner with my sister

May 2019 - Rain Art.  (instagram pic)

May 2019 - Big Fun self-portrait.

May 2019 - transfusion for my mother, prior to her heart surgery.

 May 2019 - Storm approaches.

June 2010 - Where Dreams Meet Reality.  (instagram pic)

 July 2019 - Scouting cemetery plot sites.  I took Shep with me for support.

 July 2019 - Picking flowers for my mother's celebration.

 July 2019 - said celebration.  It was a really nice day.

2019 - Dawn on Wrightsville Beach near Johnny Mercer Pier.  (Facebook pic)

 August 2019 -  A.M. walk on the beach avec rainbow.  (Facebook pic)

 August 2019 - Another A.M. walk. But this might be my fave picture of the year.  (Facebook pic)

August 2019 - Happy to toss that in the dumpster while cleaning out my mother's house.

 August 2019 - Welcome Bailey.

 September 2019 - Looking towards Canada.  (Facebook pic)

September 2019 - Shep's first hotel stay. During our four day power outage.

October 2019 - Guess who made Goooooooogle Maps? 
That's right, Shep and Dad #2, who was talking to Dad #1 as we got scanned. 
Shep is worldwide famous now! The pic was taken months before, but finally showed up on Gooooooogle Maps.

October 2019 - NOH8.  Out of all the ones taken, they selected it was this one. At first I was good with it, but I noticed soon on, I have no lines. At all. They airbrushed / photoshopped the fuck out of me. Then I looked at all the others from the Cleveland shoot.  Not one person - including the 70 year old man - had a crease, crow's foot or furrow.  I found it quite creepy. I lived hard for those.

October 2019 - Doppelgänger.  (Facebook pic)

 November 2019 - SF Hyatt. Artsy Fartsy pic.

 November 2019 - In the Navy!

November 2019 - Like I wasn't going to post a photo montage of a traffic cone I came upon.

 November 2019 - Public Art. Yerba Buena Youth Center. (instagram pic)

 November 2019 - Message book, Contemporary Jewish Museum (SF)

 November 2019 - SF public art.  I loved this one.  (instagram pic)

 November 2019 - I laughed and laughed and laughed. Land's End, SF.

 November 2019 - The Bridge

 November 2019 - Half Moon Bay.

 November 2019 - John Muir Beach Lookout at sunset.

December 2019 - When you both want naps, but the sofa only has room for one of you.

 December 2019 - Holiday Shep.  He was great with the tree. Never even thought about touching it.

December 2019 - Last daycare pick-up of the year. I scratched this dude's neck. Love him. 

There you have it, a subjective look at my 2019. Onward to 2020. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Year in Music

I don't know how I thought 2019 would turn out musically, but it was less than stellar. There weren't tons of great releases for me. I put the qualifier on there, because at some point, Morty will come back with a list of bands that I've never heard of. But he works with youths. I, on the other hand, do not.

Going in to the year, knowing John Paul White was releasing a new disk, I made assumptions ahead of time he would be my top pick for the year.

I was wrong.

One shouldn't assume, you know.

As the year went on, I found myself way more drawn - and way more often - to the Black Keys' Let's Rock album.

Let's Rock is an easy flowing disk, with decent variety between lighter rock and more moderate. Save some distorted guitar work that channels Crazy Horse now and again, it's an accessible album.  

John Paul White still put out a good disk, the Hurting Kind. Sure, it's more country than Americana, and not all of the songs click for me completely, but most do. While I referenced songs in my earlier review that were good, and I still like, a few stand out now more than others, including his song with LeeAnn Womack.  I play it quite a bit.

As for songs of the year - none of these are quite in order, but..............the first one might be #1.

White takes jabs - albeit too lightly, IMHO - at the current state of our country. I get the too light thing, as he is a transplanted southern boy who makes his living in country music. Bread / butter and all.  That said, he sings that this place has been burned to the ground and how it will never be the same again'. He takes on equality too - and ends with a ray of hope in the future.  And he does it tunefully.

I did a Black Keys song for My Music Monday, and while I love "Lo / Hi", I thought I'd pick another song that I like.  "Shine a Little Light" kicks off their disk. Love the guitars on this.

I was - and am - lukewarm on Craig Finn's third solo disk, I Need a New War, but there are selected tracks I really dig and never turn off when they hit rotation. Singable isn't the right word for his songs, but I still do. But "a Bathtub in the Kitchen" is good storytelling.

The National's new disk - to me - was kind of a bust. It has a song or two on there that I like - "Where is Her Head being one of them.

.....and why not give you the White / Womack to which I referred earlier. It might take a few plays, but you might like it.

There are still other selections that made the grade and were My Music Monday posts.

Tegan & Sara - Don't Believe the Things They Tell You (They Lie)
Love Fame Tragedy - My Cheating Heart
Shakespears Sister - All the Queen's Horses

They're all an ok selection, but nothing extremely out of the ballpark. 2020 might be better?

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Little Hitler

It appears the movie season isn't done. We got to see Jojo Rabbit Friday night.  ....and who knows, we might eke another one out before year's end.

I said, "might".

Jojo, initially, was one of those movies I immediately wrote off not wanting to see.

A movie / comedy / dark comedy about Hitler,  Hitler youth and Nazis is walking a tightrope at best. Hence, my writing it off. There is little chance of a great outcome and you have to believe it was a hard sell for the studio who eventually made it or picked it up for distribution.

Jojo comes as close as probably anyone's going to get to that described sub-genre.

I didn't know until after (you know me and reviews) that the director / actor playing Hitler (Taika Waititi) was a Polynesian Jew or that I had already seen one of his films (Hunt for the Wilderpeople).

The short premise is:  Jojo, a Germany boy coming of age, but still young enough to have an imaginary friend, joins a Nazi youth camp to learn war games, ambush techniques, and blowing stuff up......and killing. Oh, and his imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler.

Things get complicated for Jojo when he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in a crawl space.

While I've read the mixed reviews - and Rotten Tomatoes critics score (lower) and viewers (much higher) are indicative of written reviews) - they focus on actual story, but not the potential implicated underlying one:  Nazism.

Yes, I know a movie about Nazis shouldn't have an underlying theme of Nazis, but it does. 1930-40's versus now.

Children indoctrinated into this type of thinking that one (or more) types of people are bad and should be killed, when they truly know nothing about these that they hate.  Jojo struggles with keeping quiet about the girl in his house and letting people know he's "captured" a Jew. This all goes on with some people being the resistance to 'the cause' and being strung up for it - literally.

Throughout it all is Jojo's second best friend (Hitler is his best!), Yorki. The kid steals every scene which he is in. It shows when the two are together, there is no malice towards others and they talk about Jews and war like it's nothing, because to them it is nothing. Left to their own devices, they don't think that way. Yorki might sum up the situation with one line: "Definitely not a good time to be a Nazi".

Roman Griffin Davis, who plays Jojo, is pretty amazing. This kid, who I think is in every single scene, can truly carry the movie. Sam Rockwell does a really really good job as a demoted Nazi. Rebel Wilson, well, is Rebel Wilson. She was fun in say Bridesmaids or the first Pitch Perfect movie, but now you've seen her entire range: 1.0 to 1.001.

Johansson is still not an appeal for me. Reviews have been kind to her here, but I don't see it. Stephan Merchant is kind of Rebel Wilson-ish. He always has that cheeky approach and always a gleam in his eye, even while being in the Gestapo, yet he somehow makes it work for him.

Waititi was a "fun" Hitler, and often was the light-hearted moments of this movie - until he wasn't. Twice he went into führer mode. Twice, he took me out to the harsh reality of then and now.

I purposefully did not touch on the Elsa, the hidden girl, but she serves a great purpose in the film - especially for Jojo, but I'm avoiding any spoiler, should you want to see the film.

Jojo Rabbit was extremely well made, but I struggle to say it's a great movie. It's good. I "liked" it. Maybe I'm reading too much into the modern day implications.

2019 Movie Count / Goal: 23 of 15

Song by: Nick Lowe

Saturday, December 28, 2019


Shep and Soph - Holiday Edition

Shep executing a perfect down dog.......with wrapping paper. 

Sophie's non-present present. Digging at boxes.  
Or hiding in the blue bag in the picture above behind Shep. 

A present for 710. 
A personalized book. It's a fairly accurate representation of Mr. Shep. I could have gone with Bassett, but it was true Bassett, not a mix, like Shep. But it got it right down this collar colour. 

Shep, the Wrapper

I feel abused.  #metoo

710 got a Shep ornament as a gift as well. 
It was a very Shep holiday. Like every day. 

His two dads. 
Shep's ride home from a four mile hike. 

Song by: Madonna