The Three Hundred and Forty-fourth Post: The One Where I Finally Write About Plant Whoppers and My Second Most Anticipated Movie of the Year!

I have accomplished two goals: I’ve had the “Impossible Whopper” and saw Joker in the theater.

I am going to do a deeper dive in Joker a little later, because I don’t want to spoil anything. A week should be long enough to wait, right? Don’t worry, I’ll put up a spoiler warning in case you’re reading the blog and haven’t gotten to a theater yet. But first…

It’s impossible that Whopper was made from plants or plant material. It has the same taste and texture as their regular Whoppers – even the charred parts have the same feeling on the tongue. It’s a little but pricier than the regular Whopper, but at least you’re getting something that’s worthwhile to eat. Granted, this is the second time that I had vegetarian burgers (that I know of, see previous post), so sample pool is very limited.

I’m going to buy some vegetarian burgers late on in the week. I still have some good old-fashioned meat burgers in the freezer that I need to use first. After that, it’s going to be plant burgers for a couple of weeks just to see. Whether or not I feel anything different is up for debate. If anyone reading this has had experience with vegetarian burgers, or vegetarian eating in general and wants to chime in on what to expect or what changes occurred please do so through this blog. I’ll respond as soon as I can.

Note to all the cow farmers: I’m not eliminating red meat, just trying new things. Relax. All is well.

On to Joker.

This is a movie that makes you think – as all good movies should. This is Joachim Phoenix’s next Oscar film and it should give the comic book movie genre much more gravitas. I want to say more about it, but I also don’t want to give anything away (until next week).

This is part of new DC comic movie franchise called DC Black, which is (if this movie is any sort of hint) going to be not a part of the regular DC continuity. It’s going to be a series of smaller, but more serious and darker films. More character study than big name team-ups. If Joker is going to be their typical fare, then this production line is the worthy opponent to the MCU.

There have been some to say that this movie is too violent, or that this will add fuel to the fire that is the incel movement. Honestly – there is no more violence in this movie than the typical action film. In fact, there are only three scenes that stand out in my mind that are violent, and only one of those three is rather graphic. If you can sit through any of the squickier scenes in one of the Saw films, you can handle Joker. As far as this film being the siren song for the incels…well, if you make of someone and belittle them and poke them long enough, they’re going to poke back. If this film isn’t the catalyst, and at the time of writing this there are zero Joker related incidents reported, then something else will or won’t be. If you’re worried that a movie is going to trigger a riot among the lower castes of society, that says more about you than what you fear.

Well, I think that’s all for now. Feel free to drop a line about veggie patties, or your views on the movie. I’ll answer back as quick as I can.

Have a good day.

The Three Hundred and Forty-third Post: The One Where I Talk About My Lunch Because It’s Not Quite Friday, Yet…

I’m going to try a new tack as far as keeping this blog going. When I started it, it was going to be me talking mostly about writing – a how the sausage is made sort of thing. It was after a few attempts I realized that this was not going to work for one simple reason.

I am lazy and easily distracted. Regular readers know this intimately. So, I am going to borrow a page from one of my favorite webshows: #everythingiscontent

I am going to write about whatever is happening or strikes my fancy. I could talk about writing; I could talk about a movie and get into the ins and outs of the story. I could talk about a remark that someone made about something. I could talk about how Amazon has screwed up my order again (not bitter – just really, really tired of it). Whatever gets my fancy will get my attention.

Well, I want to talk about Joker, but at the time of this writing, it’s still not released. So, I’m going to talk about the first time I’ve had a vegan sub.

Over here in the States, Burger King has rolled out what they’re calling “The Impossible Whopper”. The patty is made of plant material and it’s branded as tasting just like the real thing. I haven’t had it yet, but Subway has marketed something similar: “The Meatless Meatball Marinara”. Since there is a Subway right down the road from where I work, I thought I would give it a shot.

Now, I have never had anything marketed as ‘meatless’. I have no comparison to make, and to be honest when I went in to get the sub, I don’t think the lady understood everything. I think she caught ‘meatball’. I’m going to give her the benefit of a doubt. I might do this again in a less crowded and quieter place.

After I received my order and scurried back to the office, I tried it. It was just the meatball, marinara sauce and cheese. A simple sandwich for a simple person.

I am surprised that it tasted more like meat than a regular meatball sub. With this being the case, two things can be drawn from this:

1) Plant based meat can work with no loss of taste or texture

2) Subway’s meat is apparently more filler than anything else – this notion dismays me more than anything.

Now, I am going to continue with this experiment. I am still going to get the Whopper Friday, and I might even go as far as try to find some vegan patties on my own and really try to get a bead on all of this and just try it for a while. I even thing that these vegan patties have more protein than standard tore-from-a-cow patties. I’ll report back after a while. I have a friend who is a vegan (she used to edit a bowhunting magazine. I think that is the very definition of irony), so I might get some more tips and directions. Who knows? This might be the start of something new. Is this the slippery slope of veganism? Am I going to wake up surrounded by wilted lettuce with random girlfriend yelling at me that I’ve changed and that I’m not the person I once was? Am I going to walk down streets, restlessly scratching my arms and asking if anyone can hook me up with some tofurkey?

Nah, but it is going to be a fun experiment.

The Three Hundred and Forty-second Post: The One Where I Pick From The Cards Because “Joker” Isn’t Out Yet…

What talent would you most like to have? What would you do with it?

 

This is an easy question.

Draw. I can’t draw to save my life. I can’t even draw a stick figure with someone standing in front of me as a model, much less draw people off the top of my head. Whether or not the 10,000 hour thing is correct or not, I’m pretty sure I’ve spent most of that trying to progress beyond crude stick figures. As much as I try, and I’ve had some private lessons from friends, but it’s like there is a mental block keeping me from progressing.

Which is a shame because the Internet is a visual medium.

If I was talented as an artist, I’d take all my novel ideas and turn them into webcomics. Some of them I would love t see sketched out. The Dreaded Day Job, for example, would be a great one to see done. Actually, I might try to turn that into a screenplay. When I write, I see everything like a movie in my head. Translating that visual image down onto paper (or tablet) is something I can’t do. In fact, my visual artistry is restricted to still photography – and I’m not very god at that when it comes to the editing of the photographs. I am trying to get better, but with everything I seem to have more things to do than time to do it in.

I should dust off the camera at some point, just take a day and say, “I’m going to do nothing but photograph stuff.” There is a junk yard near to my house, so I am not going to run out of subjects there (or diseases caught). I think I should try to cultivate photography as one of my few hobbies where my mania for writing can’t apply. I do play role playing games, but that ends up being a joyous exercise in character creation which turns into an excuse to build another novel. Almost all the books in my head started out as game characters.

Another talent I wish I had was music. I played guitar, but it was always that plateau I couldn’t surmount. I can appreciate music – despite what my detractors say about my taste – and I can play a very little bit. I just can’t make that leap to the next level. While I am willing to accept this more than my lack of visual artistic skills, it would be nice to be like Stephen King and rock out with the Rock Bottom Remainders.

Is it envy? Or is it more of a matter of the grass is always greener? I’ve had people tell me that they wish they could write. It’s not hard – just sit down and start. I guess that’s how other people feel when I say ‘I wish I could draw like you’ or some such. I think this Saturday, I’ll whip out the camera and take a small safari. If I want to get good at anything, I need to start.

The Three Hundred and Forty-First Post: The One Where I Review ‘It: Chapter Two”!

I finally saw ‘IT: Chapter Two’ in the theatres, by far one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Stephen King adaptations tend to run in only two directions: great (Misery), and not so much (Maximum Overdrive). While I was worried that the second half wouldn’t translate well, and I do have a couple of bones to pick with it – all in all, it has been one of the better adaptations. Nothing is better than Misery as far as film-to-movie goes.

One of the things that I noticed with the second one that didn’t happen with the first were the jump scares. There were fewer ones in the second, and the ones that were there (only three) you could see coming. I think this was a stylistic choice. The first movie dealt with the characters as children, so they’re going to be many more things to terrify them. The director made a good choice in really amping up the horror, but also giving the audience time to cool down…much like the children had with the summer. The second movie had the Losers Club as adults. Fewer jump scares, because they had already been through the hazing that was Pennywise twenty-seven years ago, but now their fears were reasonable, adult fears. The only character that still had that childish scares was Patrick Hocksteller. He was still trapped in that child-like mind set from being in the sanitarium.

The great thing about both the novel and the movie was the message about not giving up a child-like mind. Not letting the wonder fade into the grey ennui of mortgages, 401k and the comfort of a good marriage. All the Losers Club went on to jobs that benefited from that young spark of imagination mixed with the very adult toolset of intelligence and wisdom. One thing that I really liked in the first movie that carried over to the second one was things happening in the background. One of hte more remarkable scenes featuring a chronically underused Bill Hader was his confrontation with Pennywise during the festival. Pay attention to the background. I don’t want to outline it for fear of spoiling it. Given the nature of the confrontation, and what happens the director gives us a very unsettling reinforcement of Pennywise’s subtle control over the whole town.

There are some problems I found with the second film, and they aren’t very spoilerly if you’ve read the book and seen the movie, but you should also know that adaptations are rarely faithful – but if you want to go to the theatres with an untainted mind, skip the next paragraph.

Aubrey and Mike – Bill and Beverly’s spouses respectively – don’t make much of an appearance in the film, while in the novel, they’re powerful pawns in Pennywise’s defense. I understand that there might have been more, but it was either not present in the screenplay, or their material rests on the cutting room floor. Mike should have gotten more screen time at the beginning, just because I would have liked to have seen Beverly having to face down him down in the final showdown. While all of them had to face more nebulous psychological fears, it would have been nice to see Bev face down and conqueror a very visceral fear in Mike.

All in all – It: Chapter Two is worth the price of admission, in theaters right now. Go see it. Next week…I don’t know. I might do another card just to try to stay in the habit of scrambling to beat a totally arbitrary deadline. Writing is continuing on as it slowly does. I am finally getting to write one of the scenes I’ve been waiting to do for a while involving Ehren and the reason why he sells barely functioning potions to people who really don’t want or need them. I can’t wait!

Stay safe, Ignore any clowns offering you balloons. I’ll see y’all later.

The Three Hundred and Thirty-Ninth Post: The One Where I Draw One Line While Stepping Over Another…

I’m normally not political on this blog, but I had a notion and I thought ‘sure…why not’?

Complaining that we’re living in the midst of tyranny has become a new e-sport. Either the tyranny of the right or left, we are toiling and waiting to be freed – and only armed revolution is going to fit the bill. No, I’m not being hyperbolic. ‘Nazi’ is being thrown about by either side with abandon and frankly, the Overton Window can’t slam shut on this fast enough for me.

The point I am going to try to defend is this:

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If we stop and look at the situation, it’s not very dissimilar. This is a topic that is going to be worth a deeper examination later on…say…late October to early November of 2020, but for now, I’m going to hit the highlights of what I can pull off from memory.

The big similarity? The rallies and the protests. We have fascists on one side and communists on the other. This is not more hyperbole from me. There are pictures of the red and gold flags from the Soviet Union being bandied about at the protests. While we’re not at the ‘running gun battles in the streets’ level of violence, but these protests are getting rather hairy on average. There’s been at least one notable death and several injuries. I don’t see it calming down any time in the future.

What of the economy? Oy vey…while the Chinese trade war isn’t doing us any favors, we’re not in a recession…yet. From what I’ve glanced at, 2020 could be the year that kicks off a recession, and that might give other interested people the impetus needed to toss their hat in the ring. While we’re not having to pay the murderous reparations that Germany had to do, which was a contributing factor to the rise of the Nazi party, but our national debt continues to soar with no end in sight. Unless the Trump administration does something soon, I don’t think his chances of retaining the Presidency will be very high.

So – what do we do? How can we put our time and knowledge to work for us, rather than waiting what seems to be the inevitable?

For Jesus’ sake – everyone needs to take a step back and breathe. While I don’t believe that most of the foment is engineered by those in power on either side of the aisle, I certainly am sure that no one is letting this crisis go to waste. I think it’s the ones who are very vocal and easily agitated who are steering the national conversations right for the icebergs. Facebook, news media and political organizations on both left and right are profiting from these fights with either cash or attention (which they can turn into cash). The more wound up we are, the less likely we’re going to examine the situation more critically.

Are we doomed? No. We have a lot of hindsight and history to guide us if we choose to examine it. I would like to think that at some point, we as a nation are going to step back from the brink.

Nations do behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.