Booster Shot Blues…

So this past Saturday I got my COVID booster shot, ie the 3rd shot, of Pfizer, to “boost” the vaccine’s waning efficacy.

Given the number of people I’m exposed to, its a necessity to make sure I’m as protected from COVID as possible.

It’s interesting how things shake out with these shots, though.

When I got the first shot way back when, I had absolutely no reaction to it.

I was fine, other than perhaps a mild pain in the injection site, to that first injection.

When I went in for the second one, I had a slightly bigger reaction in that the next day I felt fatigued. However, by the third day I was fine, so the reaction overall and to say the least wasn’t anything terribly grave.

The booster shot, however…

Ho boy.

First off, the site of the injection hurt quite a bit shortly after getting the shot. Not incredibly painful, mind you, but more so than the previous two. I figured what happened is that in these days where supplies are tight, the pharmacist might have used a slightly bigger needle than was necessary (of note, the very kind lady who gave me the shot had problems putting on her gloves and stated that because of supply chain issues, they weren’t getting the proper sized gloves that they ordered!).

Anyway, that was early in the morning and other than the pain in the shoulder, I felt fine.

Things changed at nightfall.

Or rather, around 1 AM in the morning.

I awoke to pretty bad chills, as if I was feverish, and my teeth were chattering. I made my way to the bathroom and bundled up, putting on a shirt, light sweatpants, and socks and made my way to bed again.

I had a terrible night’s sleep.

Despite bundling up much more than I usually do when sleeping, I woke up several times through the night to these chills and, when morning arrived, I felt completely zonked out.

Worse, I had things to do which couldn’t be put off and genuinely wondered if I was going to make it through the day.

Luckily, I started feeling better as the hours progressed. Whatever temperatures I was experiencing dissipated and my head got clearer.

It felt like I was done!


Sunday night I crashed hard but, once again at around 1-2 AM, I awoke to chills.

I bundled up again and, come Monday morning, awoke to a sweat filled shirt.

This time, I felt pretty good and, as it would turn out, the effects of the shot were over and as I write this on Tuesday evening, I’m feeling a little fatigued from the bad nights’ sleep but otherwise fine.

Weird how that works.

I wonder why the first shot was perfectly good, the second a little bit worse -but nothing outrageous- while the third shot, the booster, affected me so.

The Great British Baking Show… Something Irritating

I’m going to get really deep into the weeds here so if you have no interest at all in The Great British Baking Show, scroll on to another post and find something more interesting.

Further, if you are a fan of the show (like me!) and don’t want to have the latest episode, which aired last Friday on Netflix, SPOILED, then avert your eyes, watch the show and catch up, then read on.

All right then, you’ve been warned.

To being, I love the damn show. Unlike the American/Food Network shows that feature chefs competing against each other -and there are so many of them!- The Great British Baking Show is generally pleasant and deceptively placid. Deceptively because there is tension beneath the surface but it is like watching, of all things, professional golf: The contestants are truly competing with themselves to do the best they can. They have no control over what the others do so their struggle ultimately is with themselves.

Yes, the same thing happens in the American shows but there always seems to be a more raw edge to the competition, a dog-eat-dog in-your-face tension and sweat and the smell of cigarettes (or worse) in the air.

Here, its all so pleasant, so quant. So very British.

As I said, I love the show.


Way back in one of the show’s earlier seasons and I believe during a quarter or semi-final episode, the judges (the incredibly named Paul Hollywood and, at that time, Mary Berry -seriously, can two people have more awesome names?!) wound up booting a very young contestant from the show. I thought they did so not so much for what she did that particular episode, but because they got to the point in the late stages of the season where they felt she didn’t deserve to go to the finals rather than performed poorly enough in the given episode.

But before I get to the whys of this, let me explain what the show is about.

Each episode of The Great British Bake Off features three “challenges” which are…

…a signature bake, which tests the bakers’ personality and creative flair; a technical bake, which tests experience; and a showstopper bake, during which the bakers are able to showcase their depth of skill and talent.

The first two challenges are considered lesser challenges but do, of course, figure into the ultimate judgment at the end. The final bake, the “showstopper” is graded much more strongly and, in various episodes has times saved or condemned chefs who were on the proverbial bubble.

Which, is as it should be, if each episode was graded strictly.

However… (redux)…

Back in that early season episode I mentioned above, this very young chef (she was, if memory serves, maybe just turning 20), was at times inconsistent in her baked deliveries but clearly tried very hard. No, she was not the very “best” of the chefs, especially in the show’s early episodes (it sometimes takes a bit for a chef to start to shine), but each week you could see improvement to the point where I began to feel she was a legitimate contender for the finale (again, if memory serves).

So in this particular episode, and if memory serves, she does decently in the first two rounds and quite well in the showstopper round. I felt -and this was obviously my opinion and nothing more- her overall performance, based on what the judges said, was better than at least one if not two of the remaining chefs.

And further, I felt one of the more consistent chefs, one of the ones that looked to be a shoo-in to the finale, should have been booted at that point instead of her.

Yet she wound up being the one removed.

The family and I -we really need to get a life- argued about the choice and I felt, rather strongly, that the judges at that point essentially chucked their grading guidelines in favor of allowing what they felt was the overall better chefs to continue to the finale instead of adhering to their grading guidelines.

Welp, the very same thing seems to have happened again this past Friday with Episode 8 of Season 12, Free From Week.

In this episode, we’re down to the five chefs, Jurgen Krauss, a soft-spoken chef who hails from Germany. He’s easily the most consistent chef of them all, winning star baker 3 times (which means in the 8 episodes aired, he “won” 3 of them) and received Paul Hollywood’s famed handshake (if you know the show, you know what I’m talking about) once.

There’s Giuseppe Dell’Anno, a very pleasant guy who hails from Italy. He’s easily the second most consistent of the chefs and my youngest daughter’s favorite to win it all. He’s had 2 wins and 1 handshake.

There’s Chigs Parmar, a young and rising talent who started a little rough but over the weeks got his act together and created some very beautiful bakes, and according to the judges tasty, bakes. He’s won 2 star bakers and gotten 1 handshake.

There’s Crystelle Pereira, another incredibly pleasant chef who’s won 1 star baker and gotten 1 handshake. She can be very, very good but at times flounders.

Finally, there’s Lizzie Acker, the most inconsistent of the remaining bakers. She tends to impress with her flavors but often presents bakes that simply do not look all that good.

Yes, these bakes are graded for flavor and presentation!

The rundown of the final five I’ve given above was done very much on purpose: I’ve given you who I believe is in the #1 position through who I believe is in #5 position.

So, logically, Lizzie Acker is the one that would seem to be the one most at risk.

True to form, she was the one cut in this latest episode.

However… (redux times two)…

The fact is that in this episode she didn’t do badly at all. In fact, she did quite well -at least according to the judges- with her “showstopper” bake while Giuseppe Dell’Anno, the man I feel is the #2 position… most certainly did not.

The first two rounds were, it felt, something of a wash. Crystelle Pereira did the worst on the technical round and Lizzie Acker, if memory serves, was in 3rd place. The first round, frankly, escapes my memory but I believe everyone did decently enough.

So like previous episodes of the show, to me and the family it seemed like the “showstopper” round would be the one to decide who goes forward and which of the five would get cut.

Here’s where the trouble comes in: Every one of the contestants did very well in the showstopper round, including Ms. Acker… except for Giuseppe Dell-Anno. His bake, the judges felt, was a failure, both in how it looked as well as how it tasted.

Once the reviews by the judges were done, the family and I (I repeat: We gotta get a life) got into an argument over who we felt was about to be kicked out.

My youngest daughter, who wants Guiseppe to win, was disheartened. As much as she felt he was the one who was going to win in the end, she acknowledged that based on his showstopper performance, things weren’t looking good for him.

It seemed, frankly, like we were about to witness a HUGE upset: that one of the two top chefs in this season’s show was about to go down.

And here’s where, IMHO, the judges decided to chuck their rules.

In the conversation Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith (she took over for Mary Berry), the show’s hosts talked with them about who looked to be a potential star baker and who was in danger of elimination (they do this, by the way, every episode and just before the judgment is rendered).

Paul Hollywood, at this point, says something to the effect of “Guiseppe did well enough in the first two rounds to make it to the next.”

My jaw, frankly, dropped.

He effectively gave Guiseppe a pass for a rare (it was!) failure in what should have been the round that determines who stays and who goes: The showstopper!

Again: That’s not the way it should be. The showstopper round is supposed to be the single biggest determinant of success, and Guiseppe plain and simply failed while everyone else, including Ms. Acker, did well!

By all rights, and though it would have been an incredibly shocking development, Guiseppe wound up staying while Ms. Acker was booted!

It’s annoying, to say the least, and it shows that, at least on The Great British Baking Show, sometimes your previous successes guarantee your future ones.

Dune (2021) A (Almost Right On Time!) Review

There are movies you eagerly look forward to seeing the moment you hear about them being made. There are films you never heard of and watch and are pleasantly surprised -or not- by them.

Then there are films you have available to you and for whatever reason you simply don’t want to see them.

This was the case with the latest version of Dune.


Because I’d already seen David Lynch’s version of the film, released in 1984 and found some of it quite good (Sting in particular made for a great villain) while other parts were head-scratching and confusing. I also saw the Sy-Fy network’s mini-series released in 2000 and enjoyed it well enough, though it suffered from a lower budget and, IMHO, not as strong acting/direction.

I haven’t read the famous Frank Herbert written book both movie and mini-series are based on, though I tried. Like Robert Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land, it seems like dense 1960’s era science-fiction novels are my kryptonite: I just lose interest as I struggle through their voluminous pages.

Regardless, I was familiar enough with the Dune story that the idea of sitting through another nearly three hour adaptation (and one that, I found out, covered roughly 1/2 of the book!) felt daunting. Add to the fact that Denis Villanueve, whose previous film was Blade Runner 2049, another nearly three hour sci-fi deep immersion which I ultimately found good but which suffered from a script should have been tightened considerably (read my review of that film here), and you can understand my doubts.

Yeah, the idea of sitting through another very long Denis Villanueve film featuring a story I was familiar with just… it was a tough thing to justify, especially when its so damn hard for me to find the free time to see any film nowadays.

Still, as luck -and my new best friend HBO Max- would have it, the film was available to be seen and I did have that free time so I decided: Let me give the film a try.

I wasn’t going to commit totally to it. My plan was to give it fifteen-thirty minutes and, if it appealed to me, I’d watch the whole thing. Otherwise, I’d shut it off an that was that.


I suppose I could end the review with this statement: I saw the whole thing.

Unlike Blade Runner 2049, the movie’s very long presentation’s felt fully justified and the script much tighter, perhaps because it was based on such a long, and meaty, novel.

Considering we are dealing with a lot of political intrigue involving alien cultures and similar political games of chess, the movie moved surprisingly well and the exposition didn’t feel dull, at least to me.

The movie was aided immeasurably by a top flight cast, including Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Zendaya, and, in the role of Paul Atreides, the protagonist of the piece, Timothée Hal Chalamet.

Many of the names I mention above appear in the film in what could be considered “cameo” roles lasting no more than a few minutes (particularly Zendaya and Charlotte Rampling), but they all add their own intriguing elements to the story.

Mr. Chalamet, I feared, might wind up being a little too young for the role. Truly I feared we would have another Dane DeHaan/Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets situation where the protagonist simply wouldn’t look like he could survive in such a rough setting as presented.

As I turned out, though, Mr. Chalamet did fine. He had the advantage, versus Mr. DeHaan, of his character being very young and inexperienced at the film’s onset versus Valerian supposedly being already a Flash Gordon-like badass.

Here, we follow the growth of his character and his becoming aware of his abilities.

In many ways Dune plays out like a science fictional version of Lawrence of Arabia, presenting us this weird land and, via the protagonist, we immerse ourselves in it and her cultures. Dune’s story is a thinly veiled examination of policies in the Middle East. Replace the “spice” with “oil” and it all makes sense, though there is more to it than simply that.

As I said above, the fact that I found myself watching this film to its end despite having grave reservation I would is a testament to how I felt about it.

Now that we have the first half of the novel, I genuinely can’t wait to see the rest!


Oh… Aaron…

Let me be right upfront here and say: What I’ve seen of Aaron Rogers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, on TV he comes across as a humorous, down to earth guy. Apart from a damn good player (how I wish my poor Miami Dolphins had a quarterback of his caliber!) he seems like a guy who geeks out on popular culture and even managed to snag a turn hosting Jeopardy! on TV… and what little I saw of him doing so he didn’t do too bad a job of it.

Which makes the latest news regarding Mr. Rogers all the more head-scratching.

Over the past week/weekend it was revealed Mr. Rogers would sit out this past Sunday’s game, which the Packers wound up losing, because he had contracted COVID.

That in and of itself isn’t a huge deal… because of the infectious nature of the virus, one should be cautious around groups of people as even those who have been vaccinated can contract it, though by being vaccinated you stand a much better chance of having mild reaction versus a life-threatening one.

Anyway, here’s a segment from Inside Edition which manages to hit the more salient points regarding Mr. Rogers’ situation:

Now, I don’t subscribe to much of what’s stated at the opening of the clip above, that fault somehow lies with his current girlfriend/fiancé Shailene Woodley. Though she clearly believes in homeopathic remedies, I strongly suspect a good part of the reason Mr. Rogers and she are together is because they probably -and very likely!- believe in the same stuff.

So blaming her for Rogers’ situation is at best deflection and at worse something far darker.

Because Mr. Rogers is a (in terms we professionals use) a grown-ass man whose life decisions are his own, for better or worse.

No, what’s outrageous about this situation is that a) Mr. Rogers, in an interview in April and as noted in the clip above, heavily implied (one might even say lied) that he was vaccinated when he clearly was not and has subsequently admitted to this fact.

And even more alarming b) he did this interview where he tries to put the blame on “woke” or “cancel” culture and further notes he takes advise about vaccines/COVID from Joe Rogan!

Joe freaking Rogan?!?!

Look, I get -to some degree- people’s hesitancy about getting a vaccine. You feel like maybe your body isn’t your own and somehow pressure is being inappropriately applied to get a vaccine.

But the research is there now if one cares to look at it. The FDC does not willy-nilly give approval to a new vaccine “just because”. They go over the data and it takes considerable research for a drug -any drug- to get the proper approval.

They do this because approving of a new drug or vaccine, a product which by its nature will affect the health of an individual, is that important and requires a great deal of documentation and strong experimental results before such an approval is issued, which was obviously done for the big vaccines currently available, ie Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna.

I’ve had the Pfizer vaccine and enough time has passed that I’ve scheduled myself for the booster shot.

I’m one person, of course, but at least for me and my immediate family, we’ve all had the vaccine and apart from some fatigue after the shot, there has been no big adverse reactions and, even better, we’ve not had the virus (that we’re aware of!).

The thing that’s most infuriating about the Aaron Rogers situation, and by extension with all those who refuse the vaccine, is that they are slowing society’s move toward a day when we aren’t going to be as concerned about COVID.

All their talk about their freedoms and their supposed knowledge about alternate treatments and hesitancy of getting their vaccine ultimately slows the rest of us from enjoying that day that is ultimately coming when COVID isn’t such a concern. And all the while, they risk their very lives with their at best ill-informed opinions.

For me, its frustrating as hell because even in my family there are those who have been sucked into this alternate reality where freedom and “choice” are somehow equated with rejecting a vaccine which has been proven to help.

One day, we’ll get to that freedom. I’m certain of it.

In the meantime, how many must suffer -and some actually die- before we get there?

Let It Be, 2021 vs 1969 film Version

There’s been considerable interest, at least for me, in the upcoming release of the new Let It Be documentary/film.

Way back in 1968/9, Michael Lindsay-Hogg was hired by The Beatles to document the process of making their next album, which wound up being Let It Be.

The album, and film, were for years thought to be fraught with issues. The album’s creation featured friction between the members of the band and, when they were done making the album, seemed to feel the end product wasn’t worth revisiting until later. They would wind up making another album, Abbey Road, and Let It Be wound up being given to Phil Spector who added his famous (or, going by Paul McCartney’s reaction to the whole thing, infamous) “wall of sound”. That album would be released as their “last” album, even though they made it before Abbey Road.

Meanwhile, the Michael Lindsay-Hogg documentary was released in a very limited run and, it appeared, The Beatles themselves weren’t all that happy with the final product there either. The film essentially was locked up in a vault and released once more in the 1980’s and hasn’t been seen since.

Director Peter Jackson, the man responsible for the Lord of the Rings movies, was offered the entire 56 hours of footage Mr. Lindsay-Hogg filmed during that time and will soon release a brand new 6 hour long documentary featuring that material.

Over at, Brian Hiatt offers a fascinating -though brief- interview with the 81 year old Michael Lindsay-Hogg regarding his original work and his experiences with The Beatles as well as his opinion of the documentary he released versus the one that Peter Jackson is about to release. It’s a fascinating read:

Original Let It Be Director Defends His Film: “I Don’t Care” That Ringo Hates It

Now, to begin, that headline is far juicier than it need be. At the risk of SPOILING the interview, the headline makes it sound like Mr. Lindsay-Hogg has some kind of anger against Ringo which, if you read the interview, is clearly not there. He feels like Ringo’s impressions of the original film may be dated and that he likely hasn’t seen it in a very long time and may not be quite remembering it for what it was.

Further, Mr. Lindsay-Hogg seems to be perfectly content with the idea of Peter Jackson doing “his” version of the documentary with Mr. Lindsay-Hogg’s footage. Mr. Lindsay-Hogg feels like he did the best he could at that time and with the demands for a 1 and 1/2 hour film.

Also interesting -and again, I know I’m SPOILING things- Mr. Lindsay-Hogg appears to be the person who suggested The Beatles have their famous concert on the rooftops of the building, which served as the climax of his movie!

Fascinating, fascinating stuff.

In spite of my spoiling things, if you are a fan of The Beatles and interested in reading about his thoughts on the film and what happened behind the scenes while making it, please give it a read. At the very least your jaw will drop when he describes his first meeting with the band… and what John Lennon brought in for them to hear!!!

Different times indeed, my friends.

But there is one portion of the interview in particular I found especially intriguing, so much so that I want to present it here.

For many years its been noted by historians that The Beatles’ public facade was a creation made to make them look like pleasant chaps who were witty and funny and just really, really nice guys.

The reality, as many have pointed out, was quite different. The Beatles hailed from Liverpool and, again as many have noted, it was a very rough neighborhood. Further, when they first set out to play clubs in Germany, they would appear at many very rough clubs. I recall the father of a friend of mine many years ago said they were in a club in Germany (he was German) when The Beatles played and there was plenty of shouting, hurling of drinks, and fights, and The Beatles (who at that point hadn’t yet recruited Ringo Starr) were very much at home in this very rough place.

Anyway, if you read the interview, you get to this part:

(Question): As it is, the brief moments of tension you do show (in your film) between Paul and George are among the most famous Beatles footage ever captured.
(Michael Lindsay-Hogg): A lot of people were surprised. Because the Beatles had been portrayed as the moptops, that they were just fucking adorable. In real life, they were tough. This just goes back to where they came from. Liverpool is a tough town. I wouldn’t particularly want to run into Paul McCartney in a dark alley, if he didn’t like me.

I find that final line about running into Paul McCartney in a dark alley absolutely hilarious.

Not that I don’t believe Mr. Lindsay-Hogg, quite the contrary!

I find it astonishing -yet all too believable- that The Beatles and their outward persona that we’re all so used to is nothing more than a fabrication, that the actual Beatles were rough, cut throat types who you simply DO NOT mess with.

But seriously, the idea of Paul freaking McCartney being someone you don’t want to run into in a dark alley…?!

As I said, it really strikes me as hilarious… though it probably isn’t!