All posts by ERTorre

E. R. Torre is a writer/artist whose first major work, the mystery graphic novel The Dark Fringe, was optioned for motion picture production by Platinum Studios (Men In Black, Cowboys vs. Aliens). At DC Comics, his work appeared in role-playing game books and the 9-11 Tribute book. This later piece was eventually displayed, along with others from the 9-11 tribute books, at The Library of Congress. More recently he released Shadows at Dawn (a collection of short stories), Haze (a murder mystery novel with supernatural elements), and Cold Hemispheres (a mystery novel set in the world of The Dark Fringe). He is currently hard at work on his latest science fiction/suspense series, Corrosive Knights, which features the novels Mechanic, The Last Flight of the Argus, and Chameleon.

What a way to start the year…

Saw this meme way back when 2020 was coming to an end…

Was I a good year | New Year's Day | Know Your Meme

2020 wasn’t much fun but neither was 2021. For the family and I in particular, it was downright awful.

So we said goodbye to 2021 and we aren’t even done with the first month of 2022 and already its been this avalanche of bad news coming through.

I suppose the biggest bits of news are the celebrity deaths. While it happened on the very last day of 2021 (December 31st), you had the beloved Betty White, longtime star of television and movies, passing away just shy of her 100th birthday…

Betty White dead at 99: Best moments and quotes

Yesterday/today came the news of the passing of two celebrities, Meat Loaf, aka Michael Lee Aday, mostly known as a terrific singer but also actor…

And, finally (for now, I suppose), comedian Louie Anderson…

Not My Job: We Quiz Comedian Louie Anderson On The Song 'Louie Louie' : NPR

Betty White had supposedly had a stroke a few days before her passing and it was likely the cause of her death. I read articles which stated Louie Anderson was being treated for cancer and this was the cause of his death.

As for Meat Loaf, the reports indicate he had contracted COVID and this was the cause of his death.

While the information is still very fresh and not entirely sourced, there have been those who have noted the singer had stated in previous interviews he was against vaccine mandates. There was evidence to suggest he had a conservative viewpoint.

Obviously, I can only go by those reports as I didn’t know the man myself.

However…

While it feels unseemly to speculate, I can’t help myself.

I can’t help but wonder if he was one of those people who refused to get vaccinated for COVID.

Understand: There is no joy in this speculation. I don’t have any feelings but sadness at his passing.

But I’d be lying if it doesn’t cause me to contemplate the weird times we’re living in.

We live in a time where the politization of things seems to have gone waaaaaaay too far.

In the past, vaccinations weren’t something I thought about all that much but when I did, I tended to view them positively.

After all, you vaccinate yourself against Polio. Chicken Pox. Measles. Mumps. Shingles. The flu.

I can’t recall anyone stating these vaccines were some liberal plot and/or a threat to one’s freedoms and yet this seems to be exactly what’s happened with too many people when it comes to COVID vaccines.

It hurts to realize this weird thinking has taken over too many people, especially when I have very close family members on my side as well as my wife’s side who have fallen into this bullshit crap as well.

Which begs the question: What is it going to take to convince people reluctant to get vaccinated to do so?

How many more people have to pass away before then?

I just don’t know anymore.

It’s a hell of a way to begin the new year, though.

My thoughts are with the families of those who passed, regardless.

POSTSCRIPT: Just goes to show how much has happened and how many celebrities have passed. I forgot to mention two:

Yvette Mimieux. Perhaps not as well known today, but an absolutely stunning actress, perhaps best known for the original The Time Machine and Where The Boys Are. She was 80.

And, shockingly, Bob Saget, amiable comedian and star of the popular Full House. He was 65.

Coronavirus Diary 23

Over on CNN.com comes this article by Radina Gigova…

Czech anti-coronavirus vaccine folk singer dies after deliberately getting infected with Covid-19, son says

The headline pretty much explains it all, but a few details: Czech folk singer Hana Horká, 57, whose son and husband were sick with COVID but were, unlike her, vaccinated, deliberately got herself infected and, well… she didn’t make it.

This line found in the article and from her son, is particularly poignant:

“My mom wanted to get sick so she gets the Covid pass,” Rek said. “She said to me and even publicly she wants to get infected so she is done with Covid.”

“Done with Covid”.

I suppose one could make a very dark joke about that. Yeah, she’s done with COVID alright.

Grim shit, certainly.

Her son went on to state that his mother was getting incorrect information from her “social circle”, which I suspect means she was one of those people who looked around the internet for the supposed “truth” about vaccines and the virus… most of which is complete and utter bullshit.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: I really, really thought we’d be in much better shape by now. Between the availability of various vaccines and the voluminous testing and knowledge about how to not transmit the virus (wearing masks, cleaning your hands) I genuinely would have thought that by today we’d be mostly past the COVID pandemic.

How wrong I was.

There was no way to predict, I suppose, people’s gullibility or need to find these alternative means -or, to put it bluntly, bullshit- online.

Yeah, I’m feeling real salty here.

It’s because of people like the late Mrs. Horká that we’re still struggling with this damn disease.

Get vaccinated, people.

At the very least if you do get COVID, the odds are it won’t hit you like it did her.

The Chosen (1977) a (…huh…what?!) Belated Review

First, sorry for the dearth of posts. New Year’s been incredibly busy for me and, well, time to hang around here’s been too short.

I’ll try better!

Now then, The Chosen.

Never heard of this film? You’re probably in pretty good company. Here’s the movie’s trailer:

It’s no exaggeration to say I likely saw this film in/around the time it was first released, ie circa 1977 (the above trailer says 1978, but everywhere else I see the earlier year listed but… whatever!). It was the first, and only, time I saw the film and I recalled two things about it, specifically, which I’ll get into in a moment, and neither of them was the fact that the film starred Kirk Douglas….!

Yes, I was a very young movie watcher back then, and I had no idea about who Kirk Douglas was, though in time I would come to be a fan.

But let’s back up a moment.

If you’re an old fart like me and you remember the 1970’s, it was a wild time. The hippie movement was ending and new interests emerged. There was a fascination, I remember, with “mysteries”, be they things like UFOs or Bigfoot (those who lived through that decade surely remember The Six Million Dollar Man going up against Bigfoot…right?)…

Meanwhile there were a slew of books exploring all these various mysteries, spreading out into the idea that perhaps aliens visited the Earth years before and left behind evidence of doing so (Chariots of the Gods?) and the weird mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.

The UFO interest would eventually lead to a young Steven Spielberg making Close Encounters of the Third Kind while demonic possession -another of those areas of mystery and interest, would lead to The Exorcist (1973).

In a way, the success of The Exorcist would have far reaching impacts, even to today. It is my feeling the film inspired the movie studios to make The Omen, (1976) another demonic possession -in this case, quite literally the anti-Christ- to be made. That movie’s success would lead the father son duo of Alexander and Illya Salkind to seek out that movie’s director, Richard Donner, to direct their Superman movie, and its arguable that this film’s success would lead to the current glut of superhero films we have today (Marvel movie overlord Kevin Feige has stated the first Superman film is the one they emulate with their Marvel films!).

Hot off the heels of the release of The Omen, Italian director Alberto De Martino, known mostly for creating movies which were… ahem… inspired by other films (he would jump on any popular genre), would quickly get a crew and cast together and make The Chosen, aka Holocaust 2000.

While it may seem incredible they got Kirk Douglas to play in the film, the fact of the matter is that by the 1970’s these old guard “golden era” Hollywood actors were getting rather old and I suspect getting starring roles in theatrical films was becoming increasingly difficult.

Thus, Gregory Peck would appear in The Omen and Kirk Douglas, no doubt looking for a hit and not adverse to taking on the job, would play the lead in The Chosen.

Both Peck’s character and Douglas’ are similar from both films, as is the general plot: The anti-Christ is out there and our hero, a well-healed industrialist, slowly comes to the realization that the villain is near… even as those around him die in sometimes very creative ways.

In fact, the two things I recalled about The Chosen after all these years were the two most “creative” deaths presented in the film, one involving a helicopter blade and the other a wood panel.

But… what about the rest of the film?

You know… its not too bad, considering its a rip off of The Omen, which is overall a far, far better overall work, yet I’d be lying if I said it was some kind of lost treasure from the 70’s.

Douglas really gives the movie his all, doing some stuntwork on his own (you can see some of it in the trailer above) and that’s pretty impressive given he was around 61 years old when this film was made.

He also, for those who are really faint of heart, has a sequence involving a nightmare where he runs around a desert naked.

Yeah, could be one of the scarier sequences in the film! 😉

Still, I’ve seen far worse. The soundtrack, by the legendary Ennio Morricone, isn’t bad but neither is it among his most memorable. Further, the story is not without its strange hiccups, scenes where Douglas’ character seems convinced without a doubt he’s dealing with demonic matters only to then be convinced by some really lame dialogue from others that he’s being overly worried, where he laughs and slouches it off, only to again be hit in the face with undeniable evidence.

There’s also a sequence in the film that genuinely shocked me, but for other reasons.

MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW!

At one point in the film Douglas’ character and a Catholic Priest he’s been consulting become convinced the baby his girlfriend is carrying is the anti-Christ. So, naturally, they arrange to take her to a doctor, under the pretext of getting her checked up, but in reality they’ve arranged for… an abortion!!!!!

A Catholic Priest arranges an abortion?

What in the world?!?!

Anyway, as I said before, I’ve seen much worse in my time. Having said that, I doubt modern audiences will find much interest in this film. It’s mostly a slow moving feature that, while interesting here and there, simply doesn’t measure up to The Omen.

If you’re in the mood for some anti-Christ hijinks, that’s the film to watch. If you want more, you could do worse than giving The Chosen a spin.

The Matrix Resurrections (2021) a (Ringing In The New Year) Review

December 31st.

If you’ve read my posts ’round here, you know this has been a very bad year for me and my family. We’ve faced horror and tragedy above and beyond the COVID pandemic and that stuff is still being sorted out.

My wife was determined to stay awake past midnight, to effectively tell 2021 to go fuck off, before going to bed.

Me?

I used to be somewhat nocturnal, but nowadays it’s tough for me to stay awake much past 11 pm… if I get to that hour!

But much before we got to that time, I was alone and had nothing going on. The daughters were busy, the wife was (at the time) visiting the next door neighbor, and I was alone in the family room.

I knew The Matrix Resurrections was available via HBO Max. Now, its been a very long time since I’ve set foot in a movie theater… I’m hoping in the new year I get to finally go back… but for now, with the movie available for streaming, I figured I’d finally give it a look. Here’s the movie’s trailer:

I very much recall going to see the original The Matrix way back in 1999 and upon its initial release and being totally blown away by the film. Terrific action sequences and a truly mind-bending story. And the trio of Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne were at the top of their game, delivering the goods scene after scene.

What was there not to love?

Thing is, Lilly and Lana Wachowski, who directed The Matrix, would follow that terrific film with a string of others which… well… didn’t appeal to me that much.

Despite the wonderful spectacle, I wasn’t a big fan of the two follow up Matrix films, The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (also 2003). Despite being a fan of the original Anime, I found it hard to watch more than 20 or so minutes of Speed Racer (2008). I have a digital copy of Cloud Atlas (2012) but haven’t had a chance to catch it as of yet, so I have no opinion on that film. What I saw of Jupiter Ascending (2015) seemed like more of the type of thing that had slowly turned me off of the Wachowskis and their films: Beautiful, in your face spectacle but a tough plot to follow and characters who didn’t appeal as much as I would have hoped.

Oh, and also, these films were all very long. I came away feeling like perhaps the Wachowskis could have used someone to edit the material down a little so that the stories had a better, stronger focus.

The bottom line is that as I sat in my living room yesterday on the last day of 2021 and with nothing else to do, I was somewhat hesitant to venture into The Matrix Resurrections.

Yet I did, and I’m rather glad I did so.

My verdict is that The Matrix Resurrections is a too long (not surprising) work that brings our older characters back (though Laurence Fishburne did not return this time around) for another round and while it may not be a great film, there is so much meat on the bone that I’m glad I went down this particular rabbit hole.

Having said that: I don’t feel I can recommend this film to everyone.

Looking around the internet and blog posts here and there, there are clearly many people who really hated the film. Still, over on rottentomatoes.com, the film has a “fresh” rating of 65% positive with critics and 64% positive with audiences.

But the film is bound to be divisive.

To begin with, the action sequences, while at times pretty well done, aren’t up there with the original film or even the sequels. I don’t know if its because so many years have passed but the action sequences never took my breath away.

However, the plot, involving the reconnection of Neo (Keanu Reeves, looking so much older than when he was last in the Matrix) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) was something that by the end had me genuinely near tears.

I just wish that they spent more time showing them together!

The story goes like this: Neo (Keanu Reeves) lives his boring, empty life working on video games. See, he created this great game several years ago called The Matrix and now the company, which is owned by Warner Brothers, wants a sequel.

Yes, the film is quite meta.

Neo, however, is deeply depressed. Perhaps even suicidal. He goes to a cafe to eat day after day and often sees Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) there buying a drink for herself. He pines for her, though he doesn’t know who she is and is too shy to introduce himself to her.

Eventually they do talk, and that opens the whole doorway into the film’s plot… and the machinations therein.

The film doesn’t move all that smoothly and there are moments where I could see people throwing their hands up and giving up. Things are often very weird and dragged out and, as I mentioned, the action sequences aren’t necessarily as good as some of the others we’ve seen from the Wachowskis (for the record, Lilly Wachowski bowed out of involvement in this film and her sister Lana is the sole director).

Still, if you stick around, you start to really get into Keanu Reeves’ Neo. This is a haunted man, one who knows a big part of himself is missing (could the meta storyline have something to do with Lilly Wachowski’s not returning to this film?) and he’s incredibly depressed about that… to the point where he’s considering suicide.

Granted, not the most fun stuff to watch for a potential blockbuster film, but the payoff is all that much stronger when it comes.

I doubt there will be another Matrix film, certainly by the Wachowskis. It feels Lana Wachowski took this opportunity and made a highly symbolic and very meta film about her current state of mind. If so, I hope she’s found her peace, just as Neo and Trinity appear to.

Yeah, it’s a tough film to recommend to everyone, but if you’re in the mood for a feature that doesn’t offer smarmy characters spouting smarmy dialogue, you may just find it worthwhile to take a dive into The Matrix Resurrections.

The Northman (2022) Trailer…

Earlier today the trailer for the upcoming Robert Eggers (The VVitch, The Lighthouse) was released. See it for yourself:

To say the film is highly anticipated by many would be an understatement. Robert Eggers’ previous films have earned him considerable positive word of mouth. He has helped make actress Anya Taylor-Joy a near household name, and in my opinion hit the ball out of the proverbial park with the weird, eerie, mysterious, yet at times strangely hilarious The Lighthouse.

So, yes, I’m one of those people who was interested in his latest work and, yes, I was one of those that eagerly looked into the trailer to The Northman.

And now that I’ve seen the trailer…

…I’m curiously underwhelmed.

Don’t get me wrong: There are some very fine images here and it looks like Mr. Eggers has certainly taken a big step up and made a far bigger film than he has before.

However, the story that’s presented here feels old hat, a tale of a young man whose father is murdered by some brutal warlord, who then grows and schemes his revenge…

…did I not see almost the exact same plot in the original Conan The Barbarian film all the way back in (checks notes) 1982?!

Now, lest you think I haven’t done some research, it is my understanding the film is more than it appears in the trailer, that it goes into strange territory (makes sense given Mr. Eggers’ previous movies and the co-writer of the screenplay to this film is Sjón, who, if you read his IMdB profile, has been involved in some “out there” works, including the recently released Lamb).

That it isn’t exactly what it appears, which is a movie very much in the vein of Conan (not, by the way, that that’s necessarily a bad thing… I happen to like the film quite a bit).

Still, I’m surprised the trailer featured what appeared to be such a standard swords and sandals -albeit with a Norse element- revenge story.

There are those who have praised what they’ve seen and opined it “blew them away”.

I just wish I could say the same.

Still, don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade and yes, I’m certainly hoping for the best…

Omicron & Joe Manchin & Chris Noth & Spider-Man… Oh My… sigh…

First: Hope everyone’s having a decent time as we head into the holidays. Sorry for the dearth of posts but, as pretty much expected, things have been extra-busy lately and finding the free time to post -much less do much of anything with the very little free time I’ve had lately- has kept me busy.

Naturally, there’s been a bunch o’ stuff going on, not a lot of it good.

First up is Omicron, the latest COVID 19 Variant which has, unfortunately, become a real issue worldwide. Why? Because it appears this variant is even more highly transmissible than Delta, the last variant, and further appears to be leading to record-breaking infection rates. In New York, for example, has a new one day reported infection record (you can read the full article here):

The previous record, set 11 months ago on Jan. 14, crumbled when Gov. Kathy Hochul announced 21,027 new positive cases statewide Friday.

Locally, we’re getting grim news as well regarding surging infection rates. The only positive, if one is to look at it as such, is that at least so far it appears Omicron might be a weaker infection despite its strong ability to be spread. In other words, those who catch it appear to have more mild symptoms. Doesn’t mean, however, that some people aren’t showing stronger symptoms.

I can’t help but wonder if the lag in people getting vaccinated has allowed this virus the time to mutate and therefore become much more infectious.

Regardless, there still exist those out there who refuse to get vaccines and, sadly, they may find themselves in the bullseye like never before. Which is not to say those of us who have been vaccinated -even those who have gotten a booster- need not take this seriously.

There’s no poetic way to say this: It sucks. It really, really sucks.

Onto the second topic and…

Politics…. Beware…!

So this morning Joe Manchin, senator from West Virginia, decides to go on Fox News (you just know that’s no good) and announces he’s a “no” vote on Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation.

He’s always been slow on the legislation, but there seemed to be a deal made where the Infrastructure Deal was allowed to pass with the understanding that the BBB legislation would be passed… in whatever form Manchin finally agreed with.

There were progressives within the House who didn’t want to pass one piece of legislation without the other, and it was only because of the promise that the BBB would be passed that the Infrastructure Bill was finally allowed a vote.

Therefore its not terribly surprising Manchin’s statement today has left many absolutely furious with him.

Frankly, they have every right.

I don’t know where things go from here. I believe this great country needs more of an investment in its infrastructure and services to the citizens. I believe we need to spend more on climate change. Almost all the elements I’ve read which are in the legislation feel like they are good.

But even if Manchin had issues with the bill, even if he didn’t feel the bill worked for him, this move, going on TV and publicly making this announcement… it’s chicken shit stuff.

Dude, what prompted you to do this? One can’t help but wonder now if all those other negotiations, all that other “work” done on the bill to date… was him bullshitting and hoping to get the Infrastructure bill done so he could then pack up his toys and set fire to everything else.

It really casts him in a negative light, IMHO, and I never had a particularly positive or negative impression about him before.

If you’re curious, you can read more about Manchin’s statement and the blowback in this article by Daniella Diaz and presented on CNN:

Manchin says he won’t vote for Build Back Better Act

Next up is actor Chris Noth.

I like Chris Noth. Liked him since first seeing him many, many years ago in Law & Order.

Chris Noth, on the left, with Jerry Orbach on the right

He’s had a long and very successful career, more recently playing the role of “Mr. Big” in Sex and the City.

There was an interesting bit of controversy because in the premiere of the latest Sex and the City featured a stunning element involving Mr. Big’s character and… Peloton?! I don’t want to get into SPOILERS but if you don’t care about Sex and the City, you can Google that stuff yourself.

Anyway, its fascinating the way things blow up in the news and Mr. Noth has certainly become a cause celeb, but for all the wrong reasons. I suppose it was because the actor became newsworthy (he’s been around, as I said, a long time, but he’s never been front page news until the events of the first episode of the new Sex and the City).

The reason Mr. Noth is suddenly in the news? Because there have been actresses that have gone on record to accuse Mr. Noth of sexual assault. You can read about this in the following article by Lisa Respers France and found on CNN.com:

Chris Noth Peloton ad suspended after sexual assault allegations

It’s a sad story to read. Again, I’ve like Mr. Noth’s acting in various shows. Obviously, what he projects on screen and in his acting jobs has little to do with the person and, if the stories are to be believed, this is yet another actor who may well find his career aborted. In that respect, what struck me was the speed in which Peloton reacted to this and cancelled the ads using him.

It feels like maybe they know the accusations have some merit and wanted to rid themselves of Mr. Noth as quickly as possible.

Finally, Spider-Man No Way Home is doing absolute gangbusters at the box-office. The opening box-office weekend is projected to be $253 million dollars, the third highest opening of all time and easily the highest opening since the start of COVID.

I have to say -and I make no claims of being a psychic or anything- I’m not shocked the film is doing gang-busters.

The fact is the Marvel Universe films remain extremely popular and the trailers for this movie, to me, were intriguing. Understand: I’ve tired of the MCU films. Since the dual release of Dr. Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy and my subsequent disappointment with both films, I’ve found myself blasé about the whole thing.

I’ve also found the Spider-Man films -the first two- rather unimpressive. I thought the first Tom Holland starring one was ok after a weak opening and found the second (the one that came right before this one) near unwatchable for the first 2/3rd of the movie.

Yet even someone as jaded about the whole MCU thing found the trailers for No Way Home intriguing!

So good for them. I’ll catch the film when I can.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll carve out the time to post again before the New Year. I’ll certainly try.

But if I don’t, my best wishes to everyone out there.

Hope the New Year proves far better than the last two.

Great British Baking Show, Final Thoughts Redux…

At the risk of getting really ridiculous/repetitious here, it occurs to me I should go a third time into my thoughts on the Great British Baking Show to clarify any misconceptions… all of which are likely my own fault, as briefly as possible.

(You can read my previous posts here and here)

SPOILERS FOLLOW!!!!

First: I don’t have any problems with Giuseppe Dell’Anno, the contestant who (SPOILERS!!!!!) won this year’s series. He is a very talented baker and some of works he produced were absolutely beautiful. I’ll have to take the two judge’s opinions about the taste of his bakes, as I do with all the other contestants, because until TV develops a taste feature, that’s all we gotta go by.

Second, going into the final episode of the series, Mr. Dell’Anno was the clear favorite if only because he was the most consistent of all the competitors left.

I don’t think this is a shocking statement. If you’ve watched the show from start to the finale, there were two contestants who were consistently great: Mr. Dell’Anno and Jurgen Krauss.

Mr. Krauss, of course, didn’t make it to the finale because he was eliminated in the semi-finals which, it’s fair to say, was a shocking result.

However, and Third, I felt if you watched that episode it was clear of the four contestants left, three -including Mr. Dell’Anno- seemed to be hitting home runs with their bakes while Jurgen was doing great… but not spectacular. So for me, as sad as it was that we didn’t get to see Mr. Dell’Anno and Krauss go head-to-head in the finale, It felt to me his elimination was fair.

And it was fair because the judges knew he had the weakest bake of that particular episode.

Which is the crux of my previous two posts: In that episode the judges appeared to act according to what I feel should be the proper way to judge such a show: Like in sporting events, you forget what’s happened before and focus on what’s happening now. Whoever “wins” the current episode moves on. Whoever comes in last does not.

Which is what didn’t seem to happen in the episode prior to the semi-final and which has, IMHO, occurred a few times before.

In the episode prior to the semi-final (quarter-final?), Mr. Dell’Anno appeared to have a very off week. In the technical round, if memory serves, he actually burned the bake!

Lizzie Acker, who was ultimately eliminated in the episode, on the other hand appeared to have a very good day. Her bakes, at least according to the judges, were consistent.

By all rights, she should have gone on and, in that episode, it felt to me Mr. Dell’Anno should not have.

Yet she was eliminated and he was allowed to continue.

Why?

Again: I can only guess the judges decided at that point to go by overall performance of the bakers in deciding who was to be eliminated versus who did well in that episode.

Way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1985 the Chicago Bears were a formidable football team.

So good were they that many speculated they stood a great chance of equaling a record that, until that year, stood strong: That of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who ended the season undefeated.

They tore through one opponent after another until week 13 of the season rolled around and the Bears played against -you guessed it- the Miami Dolphins.

Perhaps it was karma, perhaps it was the football Gods having a laugh at their expense, but the game rolled around and the Bears were destroyed.

They lost that game 38-24.

But they had the last laugh: They made it to the Superbowl and won quite convincingly 46-10 against the New England Patriots.

Here’s the thing: The Dolphins that year were a damn good football team as well.

In fact, once the playoffs rolled around, many in Miami salivated at the prospects of Dan Marino, Miami’s Quarterback, again going up against the Bears.

And everything looked like it would happen that way…

…that is, until the Dolphins lost to the New England Playoffs in the Conference Final game (the game before the SuperBowl) by a score of 31-14.

There were those who said Miami -pardon the pun- took their eyes off the ball. They were already looking to the next game, to confronting the Bears again in the SuperBowl, and didn’t take New England seriously.

They’re probably right.

But my beloved Dolphins lost nonetheless and because of that did not get to face off against the Bears again.

When Jurgen Krauss was eliminated in the semi-final episode of the Great British Bake off, it was a shock but the others really did seem to do better.

In the episode prior, Mr. Dell’Anno, to me, felt like he should have been the one eliminated but instead Lizzie Acker, the more inconsistent baker, was taken out and the only reason I could see for that happening was because the judges felt Mr. Dell’Anno deserved to continue due to his overall excellence versus Ms. Acker’s inconsistency.

It would have been as if the NFL decided that the New England/Dolphins game’s results didn’t matter and the Dolphins -who were a better overall team at 12-4 versus NE’s 11-5- were allowed to continue on to that SuperBowl against the Bears.

And that, folks, is what irritates me now and again about the show.

And (redux) having said all that, it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching it!

Great British BakIng Show, Some Final Thoughts About 2021 Season…

A little while back I noted my… irritation… with the otherwise really enjoyable Great British Baking Show show.

In sum, I felt that toward the end of seasons, the two judges sometimes -not always, mind you- play favorites and wind up dumping someone even if they perform well and should (IMHO, of course) stick around (you can read my ridiculous ramblings about that here).

The next episode after the one I mentioned above featured a very surprising elimination.

Now, the show has been over for a couple of weeks so I imagine most people have already seen the end results. However, if you have not, I WILL GET INTO SPOILERS IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPHS ABOUT WHO WON THIS SEASON’S BAKE-OFF.

So if you have yet to see the season and plan to, PLEASE DO NOT READ FURTHER.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!

So in the third from the last episode, which was the subject of the link I presented above, it was my feeling in that episode Giuseppe Dell’Anno, despite being a really consistently great baker for most of the show’s run, had an off day and Lizzie Acker, who was far more inconsistent in the show’s run, nonetheless had a really good day and it was my opinion, based on what I saw (obviously, I cannot actually taste their bakes so I have to take the judges’ opinions about how good -or not- they are), that Dell’Anno should have gotten the boot.

Instead, it was Lizzie Acker who got the boot despite having what appeared to be a very good baking day (or two) that episode.

Yes, she was more inconsistent and yes, if I were to have the two before me and had to pick which was overall the better baker I would go with Dell’Anno.

However, if we were to judge them just by what they did that episode, it sure did appear to me like the judges decided to go with the better overall baker and not the one that shined that particular episode.

Interestingly, the next episode featured (AGAIN, SPOILERS!) one of the two very favorite bakers, Jurgen Krauss get shockingly booted, but I suspect in his case the judges simply had no excuses. Mr. Krauss did well but the two “lesser” (I say this only in terms of overall performance across all episodes to date) bakers, Chigs Parmar and Crystelle Pereira, did exceedingly good while Giuseppe Dell’Anno bounced back from his not very good performance the week before.

In fact, of the remaining four, Ms. Pereira was likely the one most in jeopardy in the semi-final episode if one based their opinion on overall performance. However, she simply smashed the semi-final bakes and wound up being the week’s “Star Baker”. Giuseppe and Chigs appeared to do quite spectacularly during the early rounds as well so it fell on Jurgen, who did well (as usual) but not spectacular to be the odd man out.

Apparently, this was a controversial end result as many viewers felt Jurgen should stay but I had no problems with this end result. In fact, the way it went seemed to me the way it SHOULD have gone the previous week and when Dell’Anno was spared when, IMHO, he performed worse than Ms. Acker.

Anyho…

So going into the finale, we had Giuseppe Dell’Anno, Chigs Parmar, and Crystelle Pereira.

And as we moved along from the first two challenges, it seemed to me Crystelle Pereira, who was very much on the outside it seemed, I felt was doing the best.

The others, don’t get me wrong, were doing well but it seemed like heading into the final bake she was the one inching over the others.

However, one of her elements in the finale wound up being uncooked, a major problem.

At that point, I felt the finale’s champion would be Chigs Parmar, who was most consistent throughout. Mr. Dell’Anno wasn’t doing bad but didn’t seem to be quite as spectacular as the week before when he was saved and Jurgen was taken out.

So it was a HUGE surprise to me when Giuseppe Dell’Anno was crowned the finale’s winner.

Sigh.

Once again I felt like the judges decided to supplant their views of that week’s baking and look at the overall performance in order to crown the winner.

I cannot argue that over the course of the show’s season Mr. Dell’Anno was the overall best baker of those three that remained. Both Mr. Parmar and Ms. Pereira started decently but sputtered here and there. They really seemed to get their collective acts together as the show’s final episodes were made but the errors they exhibited earlier on seemed to weigh more on the judges’ opinions as we reached the finale.

Again, its something I’ve seen in the show and which bothers me because you would think the judges would base their opinions on that week’s bake, as they did when Jurgen was booted, but they simply do not as they go along and, as with other seasons here and there, I feel Mr. Dell’Anno’s win was not totally deserved.

At least not for what he did in the final week.

C’est la vie.

How The Mighty Fall…

Beware… Politics…!

Back when COVID was first becoming a worry/reality and the Trump administration started their disinformation campaign (because, hey, ignoring or downplaying a pandemic always works, right?!), there was one Governor who seemed to take the virus very seriously and focused his state’s attention upon it: Governor Andrew Cuomo.

He often showed his disdain/anger for Trump’s statements and became something of a media darling, even to some viewed as possibly a legit candidate for the Democratic Party in the next Presidential election.

Then, things went totally sideways.

Several women came forward to detail sexual harassment they claimed to have experienced from Andrew Cuomo and, after an investigation, it became clear, even to the usually pugnacious Andrew Cuomo himself, that he could not survive the scandal and thus, he quit. To this day, he faces lawsuits and possibly more serious legal jeopardy.

Now, over the weekend, his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, has been fired from his job.

You can read about that here, in an article presented on CNN itself.

Chris Cuomo, it turns out, appears to have used his position as an anchor within CNN to get information on those who accused his brother of sexual harassment. CNN decided his actions in trying to help out his brother were bad enough that they first merited a suspension and, only a couple of days later, being fired.

Andrew (left) and Chris (right) Cuomo

It fascinates me to see how the fortunes of these two individuals has turned so completely. As I said, when COVID first arrived and at the height of its worse days, Andrew Cuomo sure did appear to be what the country needed: The proverbial adult in the room who took this situation seriously.

Yes, not everything went smoothly, but still…

I recall watching Chris Cuomo a few times in/around those months. I don’t follow the news channels religiously -I’m finding it pays to watch these news channels in small doses… it does wonders for my mental health- so I can’t say I’m a fan of his work, though I was aware of it.

But the fall of the Cuomo brothers is instructive on at least one thing: There really seems to be a difference between how the political parties deal with people within their party -though I would grant you Chris Cuomo is not a politician- when they are perceived to or have “strayed”.

Just to be clear: I cannot support political figures who are involved in questionable behaviors like those that are alleged against Andrew Cuomo or Donald Trump or for that matter anyone else. Even if I feel the individual’s politics may align with my own, there is a point where such questionable personal behavior supersedes my personal support.

POSTSCRIPT:

Today, read that on top of the questionable “help” Chris Cuomo allegedly provided/attempted to provide his brother, there is a report he too was allegedly accused of sexual misconduct.

Chris Cuomo denies sexual misconduct allegations against him after CNN firing

I know, all these are, until a court decides otherwise, allegations and nothing more. But the picture painted is decidedly dark.

The New 2021 Novel Update #11

It is shocking to come back here and realize my last post was from November 16, some two plus weeks ago…!

Sorry for the delay in getting back here!

I’ve been crushingly busy, what with issues regarding my parents’ estate (which will drag on into the new year), their business (which is very busy at this point), and the topic at hand: My new 2021 novel.

Last time I did an update about the novel was October 25 (you can read it here). One of the things I pointed out in that post, which I wrote when I finished up the 4rd Draft of the novel, was this:

 I doubt the novel will be good enough to publish when I’m done with this 4th draft, but it wouldn’t shock me if it winds up being one of the last drafts needed. At this point, I’m guesstimating the novel will require at least two, if not three, more drafts and before its done.

Not much has changed from what I wrote above. As of today, I’m halfway through the 5th Draft of the novel, ie the readthrough and the red-marker revision phase. I have to now take all the revisions/corrections I’ve made on paper and transfer them into my latest computer file and, once that’s done -and this will take a little while, there are plenty of revisions I’ve made!- I print the whole thing out and start all over again.

Having said that, its really difficult to express how happy I am at the moment.

Yes, there are a lot of revisions that need to be placed into the Word file but after going over this revision, I’m ecstatic with where the story is at this moment.

It feels like I’ve set all the major elements/characters/situations in their proper place (for the most part) and I’ve created a rather unique, scary, and hopefully entertaining novel which should surprise and delight readers…

…at least that’s what I hope!

Alas, we’re already into early December and while I may be able to put all those revisions into the computer (it’s certainly possible) before the end of the year, December historically tends to be one of those months where things get really complicated for me and I’d say the odds of me getting the revisions in before the New Year are 50/50.

Which means regardless of whether or not I get the revisions in, the novel will be done in 2022 and, hopefully, early in the year. If that’s the case, it should be released by no later than the middle of -or earlier- of next year.

Trust me, I’m as excited to get this out as I’m certain others are getting it but, like all my novels, I don’t release something until I feel it is ready to be released.

With this latest revision, we’re almost there!