American Dystopia And The Consumption Of Golf Balls Through Garden Hoses

Alternate worst-title: Back in the day you could play musical cars (as in: musical chairs) at a great drive-in movie.

Disclaimer: this worst-post contains spoiler alerts for an old movie and may (or may not) be NSFW.

Back in the day, dear worst-reader, when I was still tuned in to TV, as in, you know, when I actually watched network or cable TV or even went to the cinema, I remember watching, for the third or fourth time Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Not the original, don’t you know. I’ve always preferred the 1978 version–the best version. One of the things I remember about that particular viewing–other than I had to watch it in German–was that I had also re-seen a bunch of other–let’s call them–70s dystopian thrillers around the same time. I don’t know what the issue was that caused me to watch so many old movies that may or may not be about American dystopia but let’s rack it up to Germany finding ways to allocate nighttime TV programming to the masses and/or bodies not finding better ways to sleep through the night.

The thing is. I had just moved to Germany and, even though I didn’t have a TV in my little flat, having often hooked up–you know, in that forever search for –what do girls call it?–love–everyone I met did have a TV. So. Between flirting, conjugating, waking up in the middle of the night to piss and/or continue with her, I watched whatever late night movie (on her cheap couch) that was available and when things were really good I even got some really great head until we both fell asleep, she in a warm cum soaked lap, and me with my head blown out the rear.

Anywho.

It took till my expatriation in Germania that I finally started to grasp the meaning of #Americant dystopian thrillers like Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, Planet of the Apes, Mickey Mouse Takes Paris, etc. No. Seriously. I saw these films while in a drunken stupor, high on fresh-flesh and within my first year of living in consume-to-survive #Eurowasteland. Of course, the one film that stood out, because I had already seen it a number of times, was Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Yeah. During my youth and college days Invasion of the Body Snatchers was shown on some channel late at night or at some cheap cinema here or there. And why not? What a great movie, eh, dear worst-reader! And as far as my experience with the movie goes, there is something aphrodisiac about sci-fi dystopian horror thrillers–and chicks on the run or, at the least, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. But on that note, I probably should (but won’t) die-gress.

Flash to now. That’s right. I re-watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers the other night for the first time in about thirty years. Keep in mind, even though I have a fairly large ripped movie library–which I try to populate with old movies when I come across second-hand DVDs–I do not have Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And so. While arguing with my little family about what movie to watch on Easter Sunday evening, I managed to win the fight. And get this. Just like so many times before, I was enamoured with this movie–as though I had seen it for the first time. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. When everybody had to get up and take a pee or fill their wine glass–it is a two hour film–I remained silent and in awe, transfixed on the paused screen image of Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, the cinematography, Spock! I can’t say enough good things about this movie, dear worst-reader. I mean. Is it me or should this movie be up there with Citizen Kane, The Third Man, Casablanca, Austin Powers? Okay. Ok. Forget that with Austin Powers. Just kidding.

What is it about these old movies that makes them so good? Is it the lack of CGI? Is it the mix of brilliant acting, direction and editing? Or is it the times? You know. As in. Man-o-man am I sick of high budget comic book movies that I’ve had to watch over the past twenty or so years. Or. Didn’t all that bull$hit about conspiracy theory really get its mojo on during the 1970s and no one can deal with it today–in movies? Hence, all the comic book movies with über-huge budgets that don’t really have much to say. Am I wrong.

For those worst-reading this but also born on or around the millennium, the 1970s were the f’n bomb in #Americant when it comes to two things. First. Oil. Yeah. Oil was scarce–or at least they (THEY!) made it out to be scarce. And second. Movies–on the whole–kinda sucked. But let me not get too much on about sucky movies from the 1970s. Smokey and the Bandit anyone? On the other hand, one of the reasons some older movies are so much better than newer ones is because, well, the newer ones have nothing new to say. Again. Am I wrong.

While I’m on the subject…

Everything that is $hitty today, as in, Republicans, greed-mongering old people, über-stupid graduating from college and fail-upwards-ness being the new career mantra, that whole mess started in the 1970s. Seriously. It did. For. Don’t you know, dear worst-reader, the high and the party and the fun-fun of post WW2 was over by the 1970s. Indeed. The 1970s was about no-fun, the re-establishment of patriarchy (as men began their fight in earnest against feminism) and, of course, making $$$$ at any cost. It’s no coincidence that the 1970s lead to the election of a two-bit actor who’s best role was hiding all his personal hate and greed and racism and white supremacy, which he learned by-the-buy from his adopted state of California and the career that did not choose him: acting. Again. For those not in the know. If the 1970s weren’t as fcuked up as they were, there might not have been a Ronald dip$hit Reagan. But on that note I must die-gress.

Which brings me back to the topic at hand. I re-watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers the other night and was just as tickled as the first time I saw it. Well, almost just as tickled. Reason? Boy does this movie bring back memories. And I mean worst-writer memories, baby. Are you ready?

I was in my late teens when I first saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was right around when it was released. And, although I was afeared more of suspense than of horror, this movie subverted all that on account, as I was to be told, it was more of a… And this was the first time I had ever heard such nomenclature before. This movie was not a horror movie. It was not a sci-fi invasion movie either. It was a… dystopian thriller.

Seventeen year old worst-moi said at the time:

A what?

Two things happened that coincided with the first time I saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers. First. It didn’t scare me. But it did thrill me. Second. I think this movie was a wake-up call. Indeed. It was my wake up call to digging the idear of the dystopia I was living in. At least that’s what she called it. It was also a movie that could be viewed in various states of mind without which you don’t have to shut off your brain. Get my drift, dear worst-reader? No? Wait. Cancel that. Let me move on.

Everyone called her Beka. That was short for Rebeka Tabatha Short. Beka was my first older woman. Although years later I kinda knew she was lying about her age, at the time she told me she was thirty four. (She was at least thirty-nine, eh.) Of course, I didn’t care how old she was. Reason? She could suck a golf ball through ten feet of garden hose–and she could do it ten times a day, no matter when, no matter where.

Beka was the assistant manager of a fitness club I worked at and she was also a licensed masseuse. For those not in the worst-know, I worked two jobs to save up money for college back then. The first was tending bar in Washington, DC. That was my night job. My second job was at a kinda uppity fitness club just south of the city where a lot of really, really, really expensive upper middle class women were trying to keep their product in order. But that’s not the reason I worked there. I worked there because it paid well above minimum wage–and all I had to do for that was dance around a room providing MILFs aerobic excercise. Anywho.

Becka lived in DC only a few blocks from the restaurant where I tended bar at night. Because I was all into saving money at the time, I would drive to the fitness club, park my car, work my shift, and if our schedules worked out, Becka would take me to my night time job saving me the gas money. When I finished there she allowed me to stay on her couch till the morning when she would drive me back to the fitness club. This relationship went on for about six months. Of course, only after a short initial period, I no longer stayed on her couch. Unless a late night movie caught us.

We watched a lot of late night movies. The movies we watched were the really old ones, too. Most were also black & white movies. You know, Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature From The Black Lagoon, etc. But then, one day, after a Sunday shift we worked together but I wasn’t scheduled to work that night at the bar, she asked if I’d like to join her and some friends and go to a drive-in. She even added that it was her treat. I agreed but made it clear that she would still need to bring me back to my car in the morning. She smiled and winked. I then joined her and a few other people/couples in various cars and we went to a drive-in cinema to watch the recently released Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

That evening I learned three things. Beka was a divorcee and her former husband was a great guy and he loved movies and he was there with a new date. The second thing I learned was that I could come four times in two hours at the behest of three different women, who went from car to car, and all I had to do was stay in the back seat of one car. The third thing I learned is that after a movie, when smart people think about it, they can come up with some pretty interesting words to label it. As in. Everyone from the group that I was with that night agreed that Invasion of the Body Snatchers is not a horror movie, nor is it a sci-fi movie, but it is a criticism of where America is going: it is a movie about (our) dystopia.

But enough about worst-writer’s history of cheap love affairs and/or (intellectual) seeds that would lead to the tree of my expatriation. Or. Am I wrong.

Since, dear worst-reader, you’re obviously here for whatever else I learned from my various viewings of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, here are a few issues that stand out for me, even after this most recent viewing:

  • How can anyone sympathise with Americans being turned by alien gel-icky into automatons when a city bureaucrat opens the movie (Matthew Bennell/Donald Sutherland) with a nasty control/authoritarian schtick saying it’s not a caper it’s a rat turd and thereby terrorising a San Francisco French restaurant?
  • How is it that Elizabeth Driscoll/Brooke Adams is able to bring home an alien flower that ONLY infects her fiancé when they both sleep at the same time, in the same bed?
  • Why is it that the only malfunction of the pods came when the so-called hero of the movie kicked the pod that was next to the homeless guy who played the banjo and had a nice boxer (dog) as a pet, i.e. the dog with the human face?
  • Was it really necessary to have Robert Duvall play a Catholic priest on a swing at a playground full of kids? Oh wait. It was the 70s. They could get away with it back then!
  • At the end of the movie, the moment where Donald Sutherland is shown to be one of them, is it possible that he isn’t but is acting like one in order to save his own skin?
  • Leonard Nimoy is a great actor.
  • Finally. Did Donald Sutherland wear the same sweater in two movies? I mean, he did film Animal House around the same time. (See pics above.)

Actually. The (other) truth is. And I don’t mean this to toot my own horn any louder than I already do in this worst-blog, but on the/my first viewing of this movie I ended up that night with my first older girlfriend coming a fourth time after her former husband dropped us off at her place. That’s also when I first learned the word insatiable, swinging and there’s no such thing as jealously if there need not be. Oh. And if you’re ever at a drive-in and you see girls moving from one car to the other, you now know why.

Rant on.

-T

Links:

Pseudo-Review: Beamer Baby Boom

Title two: Review of the LG Cinebeam 1400 Lumen Wonder

As you may or may not know, dear worst-reader, I’m a typing nut. That’s right. Even though I’m not all-that interested in what’s been typed (by worst-moi), as long as I’m doing it, life’s almost good. The only other thing that’s better in life than typing… Wait for it. Wait for it. Are you guessing what I’m gonna say? Well, you’re wrong. It ain’t xes (spelled backwards). Only riding a motorcycle is better than typing, which I haven’t done for twenty years. Wow. Life can suck, eh! Anywho. What am I on about today?

Last summer as the COVID b.s. was hitting the $hit-fan here in good old Germania, my better half came up with the idear, even though we’re not allowed to have a TV in our living, that she was now willing to entertain a beamer–as long as it’s not hooked up to cable. For that’s the thing, dear worst-reader, we don’t watch TV. Wait. That’s ain’t quite right. Here, let me try that again.

Since the get-go in this relationship, we both decided that we don’t want any sort of TV connection and we especially don’t want a TV in our living room. As time has past, though, we have become more and more accustomed to all-things #Interwebnets. Meaning, of course, we watch movies and TV shows, we just don’t want to watch them via something that would/could be installed in our living room–that takes up space, kills time and uglyfies life. And so. That’s right. Our living room is a place where most of our reading and music listening takes place. At least it did, to my worst-surprise, until COVID and my better-half came up with the idear that it’s time to “entertain” a beamer.

Beamer of choice from the get-go has been one from LG. Reason? The bulb. The main mechanism of a beamer (projector) is how it produces the necessary light beam. This particular series of beamers uses a lighting source that is supposed to last for thirty-thousand hours. Other sources of lighting for these projectors have only hundreds of hours of capacity before the bulb has to be changed. An expense that sometimes nears the cost of the device itself. According to the limited research I did, including price shopping, that pretty much sealed the deal for the brand we ended up buying. But then I had to learn about the whole “lumen” thing. My better-half set a budget for such a device at about a thousand Euros. That may sound like a lot but I can assure it’s not. Also. Being el-cheap-o, I kinda knew I could get one for cheaper than that because I also knew that we didn’t need 4k video and 1080p would suffice. What to buy, what to buy, what to buy.

Our first-try was the pico beamer from LG that produced 600 Lumens and cost about 500€. I used it for about two weeks and although it wasn’t very bright, I was impressed with what it could do. Also, it was about the size of a Mac Mini which meant I could easily hang it from my bookshelf. But I ended up sending it back because of the limitations of wife-approval and wall space (we have flat, white walls so there is no need for a screen). The biggest problem I had with the pico beamer was that it couldn’t properly “keystone” the image it was projecting. Also. In the end my better-half was kinda peeved that I didn’t spend more money. Can you believe that?

Of the 1080p beamers being offered in the product range, I bought the next one up which just happened to be on sale from 1000 to 750€. It is a 1400 Lumen projector the size of a child’s shoebox and, of course, weighs a bit more than the pico device. As you can see from the pics above, though, the jimmied photography equipment I use to attach it to our bookshelf works just fine supporting it. Although it offers limited up-down, right-left keystone-ing, it is enough to project quite a large image on a perpendicular wall that is about ten feet away, which is another thing the pico couldn’t do. The difference between 600 and 1400 Lumens is also significant, which means, unlike the pico device, this one we can use in daylight. Meaning, unless we have bright sunny weather, we don’t have to pull down any shades to see the image. Evening movie watching with this thing is pretty impressive too when you consider the five figure cost of a hundred inch flat screen TV.

After just over a half year of use, I’m still very impressed with this beamer. Connected to an AppleTV4, where my better-half can access her German TV news and shows via apps, it works great. That means it’s also connected to our home network so we can project lots and lots of movies from our media server. But more important, when it’s not in use, we don’t have an empty black screen on a table top or attached to a wall that always begs to be turned on and thereby kill beautiful empty, minimalist space. Oh, and if you’re curious about all the trickery LG offers in this device, you’ll have to go else where. I’ve not messed with any of it. It’s literally only a screen for the AppleTV. As long as that works, I don’t give a hoot about the rest.

Rant (and consume) on.

-T

Berry Hifi Galore

This (worst)post was updated March, 2021. (Strike throughs.)

Title 2: No such thing as Hifiberry overkill. Or?

Gotta say a few worst-words about my Hifiberry collection, dear worst-reader. Not sure if you can tell, but I’m a Raspberry Pi fan. I love these these little SBCs (single board computers) and when combined with DACs, IMHO, there’s no better way to enjoy audio without breaking the bank. Speaking of which, this equipment allows me to avoid krapp like Apple’s HomePod or whatever branded ridiculously priced streaming device, sound bar, etc. Also. As far as I’m concerned, Bluetooth ain’t quite there yet when it comes to quality audio streaming. On the other hand, I am an Apple fanboy. That means, I always have to compromise something when it comes to compatibility. I also have some legacy audio equipment that includes active and passive speakers, plenty of cables, connectors, and few really cheap Chinese DACs (smsl, etc.) The thing is, even though these devices are cheap and require a bit of maintenance, they do not lack in audio quality. But let’s move on.

As you can see from the pics above I currently have four RPi’s with HifiBerry DAC hats. I use them mainly as media players or streaming endpoints. If you can do some basic linux stuff, you’re in the green with these babies. Although there is a swath of audio DACs from other makers for Raspberry Pi, I’ve never bothered with any of them, so this is obviously a one-sided pseudo-review. With that in worst-mind, let’s run down my use cases.

Let’s start with the old and weak, shall we. In order to make use of my oldest RPi3 (from 2014), which was collecting dust in a drawer, I ordered the HifiBerry analog DAC with the 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s running HifiberryOS, which makes it a streaming endpoint (if I’ve got the tech vernacular correct). I use it mainly as the audio output for my AppleTV4k via shairport. The AppleTV drives a 1080p Beamer. Connected to the phone jack of the HifiBerry DAC–because the onboard headphone jack of the RPi really, really does suck–is a pair of Bose Companion 20 powered speakers. These are my trusty play-anywhere, use-anytime speakers for the past fifteen or so years. These old Bose’s are perfect for TV (instead of a stupid soundbar) or desktop PC use. Heck they even suffice for outdoor use if a party or a cook-out needs tunes. Also. Keep in mind. I live in a very rectangular townhouse with an inner loft-like atrium that is surround by kitchen, dinning area and living room. The living room and dinning room merge at a corner of the atrium. The main wall at the end of my living room, with bookshelves, is where I have what I consider my music speakers. Hence, I have a room with two disparate sound systems. More on that in a sec. The beamer projects on a perpendicular wall. As you can see in the pic below, the Bose speakers are on a high wall table and they project whatever audio comes out of my AppleTV, which is also hidden away atop my bookshelves.

A second RPi3 has a HifiBerry AMP2 DAC hat also running HifiberryOS and functions as a streaming endpoint that I feed with iPhone, Mac or iPad. It’s currently my only remaining Volumio device hidden away behind books at the top of my bookshelves (see pic below). It provides my living room with… you guessed it: music only. Even though I love the old Bose Companion speakers, they are nothing compared to the AudioEngine P4s that resonate beautifully in the most expensive bookshelves I’ve ever owned. The reason this is my only Volumio device is because 1) my wife’s not ready to learn new player software and 2) it works better than HifiBerryOS when it comes to accessing SMB shares. More on that in a sec. The RPi and AMP2 drives the AudioEngine P4 speakers with enough quality to make me grin ear to ear every morning while drinking earl grey and waking up to jazz.

Btw. Morning jazz is a worst-writer ritual.

My third RPi3 has a Hifiberry DAC+Pro and is a Plex media player OSMC player. It’s attached to a flatscreen 40″ TV in my work room (not pictured). For audio it is connected to a TEAC (ice powered) integrated amp via RCA cables and powers Pioneer BS22LR speakers. I think it’s my second oldest Raspberry Pi (from 2015 or 2016). When I started using Plex back in the day, btw, I thought it would be my streamer and player of choice. Turns out better players software abounds. And, if you ask worst-moi, Plex has become too complex. (Pun intended.) Plus I hate subscription software. Anywho. I mainly use Plex OSMC with RPi and with AppleTV for for viewing my ripped movie and TV collection. When playing music I simply stream to it via OSMC shairport. Btw. All my media is stored on a simple samba server The Plex server is on a Pine64 RockPro64 which is in my basement. This is my minimalist, go-to, as audiophile-as-it-gets, setup. I absolutely love it.

The last RPi in my collection is an RPi4. I’ve been using it mostly as a testbed and/or fiddle device. It has the HifiBerry DAC+Pro and is currently connected to my TEAC’s second RCA inputs. It’s currently running HifiBerryOS and I’m really digging how it functions as a streaming endpoint. The RPi4 is the most powerful device here and it shows–especially when loading SMB shares or fiddling with operating systems. I’ve been switching between HifiBerryOS and Volumio with it trying to figure out which player I prefer–and HifiberryOS is winning on account Volumio seems to be going down a path of greed-mongering. More on that in a sec. What’s become very clear to me while fiddling around with all this stuff is that the day is nigh when these little things will easily replace modern desktop PCs. As far as media players go… they’re already the bomb.

HiFiBerryOS vs Volumio?

My only gripe with with RPi + HifiBerry is the software. I’m still, kinda, in the experimental stage of how to setup all these devices. Although I would like something similar to what iTunes used to be, I stopped using iTunes years ago because of proprietary issues, including the fact that Apple doesn’t support FLAC. Currently I’m pretty happy with webradio and direct streaming via shairport. The only thing missing is to be able to do it all with one software. But which one? I’ve got HifiBerry OS on two devices, Volumio on one device and Plex on the others (including my basement Pine64 server). Anywho…

I’m starting to dig HifiBerryOS more and more. Even though HifiBerryOS on the older RPi3 seems to have fewer capabilities than when on the RPi4 The OS works so well with shairport (open source version of Apple’s Airport streaming software) that I’m actually streaming more and more music from my Mac and/or iPad–as opposed to accessing music via SMB shares and Volumio, which I can’t getting running on HifiberryOS anyway. Update: using info provided here, I managed to get HifiBerryOS connected to my SMB shares. It works like a charm! Hopefully they’ll fix the bugs soon. Right now I’m streaming The True Loves Live Performance from KEXP (YouTube) and it is rocking’ cool!

It’s time to admit the obvious. I’m becoming more and more disappointed with Volumio, which has been my go-to music player for a few years now. Also, since Volumio has decided to go down the cost-path of subscription fees in order to monetise, plus it thinks it’s OK to charge for Bluetooth access…. Come on Volumio, subscription fees suck. And how is it that HifiBerry doesn’t charge for its Bluetooth access?! Just charge a flat fee for your software. Or not! But heed this: as a streaming endpoint, I’m really digging HifiBerryOS.

IMHO. Raspberry Pi and Hifiberry have really done a number on an industry that is obsessed with cheating consumers. Am I referring to the so-called audiophile industry? Or just the Denon and NAD makers? Yeah. Something like that. What’s important is that if you don’t want to be owned or miss out on modern music consumption and have a bit of tech knowledge plus you are willing to fiddle around with opensource software…?

This stuff is a no-brainer. Nuff said.

Rant (and listen) on.

-T

Robot Vacuum Worst-Best Sucking Things Up

To avoid all my worst-writing and get straight to the pseudo-review, just scroll down a bit. Otherwise, good luck.

This consume-to-survive world/life is gettin’ to me, covid n’all. You too, dear worst-reader? I mean. Just the other day, after purchasing another one of them fancy-pants robot vacuum cleaners, after my previous über-expensive robot vacuum cleaner stopped working, I thought: what will be the last thing I ever buy? I mean. You know. Before I die, what will be my last purchase of this life? Which begs the worst-question: should it be something big and exuberant and gaudy? Even though the thought of buying a sailing yacht as a last purchase has crossed my mind, I’m starting to reconsider. For you see. Don’t you know. The dream-purchase of a yacht is two fold. First, it would be used to sail out to the middle of the Atlantic, once and for all. Once there I would hang out for a few days dancing and prancing in a state of glorious inebriation. After that I would pull the plug. You know, the plug at the bottom of every boat’s hull. And while the boat is filling with water, I will dawn my scuba gear and jump over board. While still on the surface, I’ll watch my last life-purchase sink and shed my last tears. Just as the hull breaches the water’s surface I commence to join it by grabbing the mast but continue breathing with my scuba gear as we go down. Now. Get this, dear worst-reader. This is my death fantasy combined with my last consume-to-survive purchase. And so. I commence a rapid descent along side my yacht and thereby watch my depth gauge. Once I surpass forty-five or so meters I then give way to my fate and submit to nitrogen narcosis, which, in my case, as I learned during a fifty meter dive in the Red Sea in 2010, sends me into a hissy-fit of giggling. Of course, since I enjoyed all those dreams of yachting across oceans for so long, it’s my hope that those same dreams will accompany me as my body submits to rapture of the deep. Without struggle or stress, the chemical imbalance of oxygen in my blood stream, at depth, sees to it that the lights finally go out and time stops and the misery that is a life that can give way to the likes of #Trump and #MAGA and the demise of my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant… to fascism… is finally over. Good night sweet prince.

All kidding aside. Since I ain’t never gonna afford no yacht, how ’bout we make my last purchase something akin to a last meal. But would mine include ice cream? Certainly not. It would be all about blue popcorn and watching the tale of a salamander as it wiggles (and giggles) hanging out of the beak of a horned rabbit… with Monty Python pointy teeth.

Pseudo-Review

Today, dear worst-reader, we pseudo-review our new robot vacuum cleaner, the Neato D7. It is replacing our old iRobot 866 which we purchased in early 2016–or was it late 2015? Needless to say, I was very disappointed that our iRobot died. I’ve since ticked it away via that online auction service as “defect”, don’t you know. Good riddance. In fact, after a few years of use and being a device that I thought would hold up for a few more years, I can gladly admit that iRobot is on my shit-list. Indeed. The one good thing about being able to afford consume-to-survive purchase like this, is that I can also express my deep, deep disappointment in the corporate misnomer that some stuff that you think is quality ain’t really so. More on that in a sec.

The Neato D7 cleans better than the iRobot. It’s also quieter and is easier to maintain. The most important thing, though, is the Neato is much, much smarter than the iRobot. Although the Neato software sucks buckyballs, I’m slowly adapting to its inadequacies. That’s what software is all about, or? It’s never about what software can do. No. It’s always about the compromises made when using it. Am I wrong, Microsoft, Apple, etc.? Anywho. As of the writing of this worst-post Neato’s software cannot be used by multiple devices, i.e. two separate iPhones. Also. The iPhone app crashes here and there. The app interface reminds me of lost Windows 95 sys admins who may or may not have jumped ship. But before I get too far off subject. The first downer I noticed about the inadequate software is that it doesn’t run on two different iPhones. Well, it does. But then it breaks things. That is, when my wife tries to control the robot with her iPhone and then I try to access it later with my iPhone, the device becomes disoriented and is unable find its home base. Another downer about the software is that room mapping on multiple floors only works if you have multiple home bases, i.e. charging stations on each floor. WTF!

Price

Oh yeah. The price. The Neato was on a special end of summer offer for 370,-€. Compared to the dumb-device cost of the iRobot from 2015 @ 699,-… that kinda makes the Neato a frickin‘ steal. Another notch in the hate-gun of iRobot? Nevermind.

Back to software krapp.

Although initial setup of the Neato’s room mapping was a bit cumbersome, requiring two hard resets, where the ground floor of our house had to be mapped twice, I eventually reached the point of… fcuk-it. If all else fails, I’ll forget the room mapping and just let it clean without it. That’s what the iRobot did. The biggest difference to the iRobot was that the Neato works as though it can see where it’s going. And that’s a big deal. Considering iRobot’s latest product that can also see costs triple that of the Neato…? I can live with krappy software as long as it cleans and doesn’t just bang into stuff.

And clean it does, baby.

After a few weeks of use, just letting it do it’s thing, I’m not convinced that Neato’s mapping algorithm is fool proof. But I did get it working. Things like “no-go-lines” are a good idear, don’t you know. “No-go lines”, btw, you can set in the app, which has a virtual map of your house, and they’re supposed to prevent the device from slamming into, say, the dog’s water and food bowls or any other complicated floor areas, e.g. cables, floor lamp bases, etc. The only problem with “no-go-lines” is that you have to make sure that what’s ever in the lines is always in the same and/or original place. A bit of a cumbersome thing considering a real world floor doesn’t contain “no-go-lines”. Even though our older iRobot could see walls but couldn’t see furniture, the Neato seems to be able to see everything–with or without mapping. Which brings me to…

I was very disappointed when our iRobot stopped working. After searching and researching, I found out that the iRobot didn’t wear as well as I thought it would. That is, the build of the iRobot is better, more solid than the Neato, that’s for sure. On the other hand, the iRobot seems to be more complex. For example, before its demise, the iRobot kept indicating “Error 11”. I since learned that depending on the model, “Error 11” either meant bad battery or bad waste bin. I eventually bought a new (albeit third-party) battery for it. After one cleaning session “Error 11” returned and I was pissed that I might have just wasted my time replacing the battery. Turns out that the waste bin was also faulty. That’s when I found out (realised) that iRobot builds the suction fan into the waste bin. IMHO, after a few weeks with a new robot vacuum, iRobot might be stuck in that industrial mindset of not just over-pricing but also (aghast!) OVER-ENGINEERING.

Anywho. The Neato has a much bigger waste bin, cleans waaaaay more efficiently, is quieter and after (finally) getting the mapping thing going, allows me to clean room by room with a few taps of the app. If/when I want to clean the second floor of our house, though, I do so by just taking it up stairs and hitting the clean button. After that I have to take it back downstairs and manually put it on its home-base. Oh yeah. That damn home-base. Hold a sec. That’s another thing.

If you interrupt the Neato’s cleaning session by picking it up or moving it, it gets confused. That wouldn’t be so bad if I could just tell it to find its base. The problem is, removing it from its mapping seems to make it forget where the base is. The only way to get it back to the base is to manually put it there. Again: krappy software! I hope Neato will improve it with future updates. If not, compared to the 2015 iRobot, I’d still buy Neato. Reason? The most significant difference between these two robots is I no longer have to deal with one of them just banging into stuff.

As far as cleaning goes. The Neato wins hands down. Our hard wood floors are much freer of dirt and tiny particles now. For the price and compared to equivalent smart devices from iRobot, I’m throwing the Neato in with any great deal I’ve made lately. Even though the software kinda sucks, it does a good job of cleaning. Add to that it doesn’t get stuck…

Three years of krapp like this, baby. Replace it.

Get your shit together iRobot!

Consume and rant on, baby.

-T

Planet Of The Free To Be Stupid

planet of the humans pic

Pseudo-Review: The Planet Of The Humans

  • Pros: this is a somewhat informative–if you’re uninformed–documentary with a well branded name connected to it.
  • Cons: #OKBoomer white men1 who are so bored with life that they somehow find a way to make half-decent documentary movies but what they really need to do is step aside and help young people (make those movies) instead.

I’ve never seen Roger & Me in its entirety. I’ve seen a few of Michael Moore’s other films, though. Roger & Me came out the year I was expatriating–you know, running away from the greed $hitshow of my beloved & missed #Americant. The thing about Moore and his movies is that he has most certainly raised the bar when it comes to 1) explaining or 2) complaining. And trust me, dear worst-reader, I know a lot about complaining (ranting).

Here’s the problem with Moore’s movies (complaining)–and probably the thing #Americants will never be able to comprehend after watching them. In all of the troubles of the world–especially the #Americant world–there is nothing, not one single thing, that binds, that ties, that unites the whole shitshow, except, of course, complaining, which is all #Americants know. Well, that and money (of course). But. Hold a sec. Let me worst-elaborate.

Whether Moore is ranting & raving about corporation A or B (Roger & Me), guns here or there (Bowling For Columbine) or the ills of for-profit health care (Sicko), like so many other so-called rational thinking peoples, he ALWAYS fails to mention what makes the entire $hitshow possible. And get this, dear worst-reader. If pressed to provide a worst-example of a peoples (a country) that can actually collectively do something about the ills of the world (or at least the ills of a country), then you’ll have to use a language other than #Americant accented English.

Par-lay vu Fran-say, motherfcuker.

The details are vague in my worst-memory, dear worst-reader. But I remember hearing lots of protesting voices as the 1980s came to an end. Sure. The Berlin Wall was falling. The Soviet Union was dying. And there was a lot going on with all that. But you know what impressed me the most? French farmers dumping whatever they farmed en masse in the middle of Paris. I think, at the time, apple farmers were dumping apples all over the Arch de Triomph. And they were doing so in protest. I had taken my second or third train ride to Paris that year–just for shits & giggles, don’t you know–on account it was so close via a quick train ride from Köln–and once I got a taste of Paris there was no tasting anything else. How fun is that, eh, for a redneck tobacco chewer walking and dreaming on cobblestone streets? #Nomatter.

The thing I quickly realised back then was how the French, if they wanted to, could actually have a voice and thereby use that voice for political and social gain (or demise). And when I say peoples and voice, I mean regular people with big stick voices. Indeed. Real people. Saying real things. It was all quite the opposite of what would eventually lead to the #MAGA hat wearing morons of my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant? Or the singularity and repetitiveness of Michael Moore movies–and whatever it is #Americants call the political left. And get this, dear worst-reader. The voices and the peoples outside the world of documentary movie making, outside #Americant, had some (not all) real political power. Now that’s truly different than what I grew up with. You know, money or no-money. Eat or starve. Indeed. Submit yourself to the God of money, minion. And then self-medicate, bitches.

It was an astonishing thing to witness back then, dear worst-reader. #Eurowasteland, especially France and Germany, but sometimes Spain and Italy, were awash in protests. Even though the protestors didn’t get their way in exactly the way they wanted, they most certainly made inroads toward that way. That is, politics listened. Also. They literally chipped away at capitalist greed, the cult of old-money, that hoped it could rule–like its cousins in #Americant and Britain were ruling–and are still ruling. But let me not get on about the ills & uglies of the Anglo-driven (mindset) world compared to that of other worlds.

The thing to keep in mind, dear worst-reader, when it comes to protests, (protest) voices, fighting the good-fight, is that there are peoples out there (in the world) that refuse to have their voices dumbed-down. And so. Unlike #Americants, there are voices in the world that aren’t guided by money alone. Hence, Michael Moore’s movies complain in a big way about the ills of #Americant but nothing in any of his movies will make #Americant apple farmers dump all their apples on the steps of the US Capital. #Americants will never protest how government bails out banks and hedge funds and old-money corporations that should have died ages ago. Could #Americants don yellow-vests in earnest? What happened to the occupy movement? Indeed. #Americant perverted John Wayne individualism will always #Trump (yes, pun intended) #Americant collectivism. Hence #Americant can have no voice, no say, no-nothing in the fight between right and wrong, between greed and starvation, between moneyed-fairness and judicial greed-mongering. Thanks a lot Michael Moore.

And so.

Michael Moore is the executive producer of The Planet Of The Humans, which you can watch for free via the ultimate dumb-down device, the #interwebnets. It’s a pretty hardcore movie, dear worst-reader. The end of the movie is especially hardcore because it shows the brutal demise of an Orangutan after its forrest is burnt down–as though animal cruelty is any different than human abuse–which is nothing more than humans not only doing what they are told (compulsion) but also doing it all without question (behaviourism). Either that or it’s as brutal as a video showing white policemen gunning down African Americans day-in, day-out. The thing about this movie, though, is that it’s voice is a bit different compared to other Moore documentaries, and perhaps that’s due to Moore ONLY being its executive producer. And so. The Planet Of The Humans complains about the complainers. It literally tries to bore advocates of the Green New Deal a new arsehole by complaining about how solar panels are made or how alternatives to fossil fuel require too much fossil fuel. And so.

Has you been woken you up yet, dear worst-reader?

Unlike Roger & Me, I watched this movie to the end. Reason? It’s free. Does that mean I won’t buy another Michael Moore movie? Probably. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Heck, I’m even listening to Moore’s podcast here and there. And I’ll always love him for those words spoken at his Oscar win–oh so long ago! But his movie making… This movie…? The Michael Moore voice would be better served if spewed from the mouth or movie making prowess of something more youthful. Indeed. Enough #OKBoomer complaining already.

Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

-T


  1. The scariest part of this movie is the obvious and perhaps subconscious reveal that privileged white men, #nomatter their class, are still stuck on/in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Malthusian doctrine and/or social darwinism less the mass grave killing via Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. Or something like that. ↩︎

Summary Demise

hiding in plain sight cover

Pseudo-Review: Hiding In Plain Sight by Sarah Kendzior.

Cliffsnotes, dear worst-reader. Maybe that’s the ticket to understanding what happened to my beloved & missed #Americant since the advent of political stupidity and the election of a two-bit actor for president–oh so many years ago. But enough re-hashing of the good’ole days, eh. Haven’t we all had enough of The Ronald? As in, Ronald Reagan (and not Ronald McDonald)? But before you bite into the delicious pseudo-burger I’m preparing for ya… Let’s get on with The Donald aka President Pee-Pee-Hair–the friendly antithesis of The Ronald in this #Americant $hitshow of greed-galore.

Or maybe not.

The original thought for this worst-post was to make an analogy to Cliffsnotes and there being a pretty good summary out there for those who want to understand things. You know. Something like… Everyone needs a good summary of what it is that’s bothering him/her in order to figure out what the heck is going on–in #Americant politics–so the whole $hitshow can be fixed. I mean, ain’t that what Cliffsnotes are for? Cheating. As in. Cheating–for the greater good? Or? Then again. Figuring things out without actually learning anything–in a life of multiple-choice testing? Ain’t that how so many #Americants got their so-called edumacations and careers, especially college edumacations, and have subsequently guided the $hitshow down the road it’s on as though it and everything within it was nothing but a bad wizard of oz musical?

We’re off to see the…

Let me start again, dear worst-reader.

Sarah Kendzior’s book Hiding In Plain Sight is like a summary (CliffsNotes) of President Stupid and how he came to be–wihtout having to read any history. Except. Of course. In her summary she’s missing one big thing. That is, one big thing is missing in her book and it’s not unlike what everyone else misses in their attempt to figure out (CliffsNotes) what the hell is going on. Of course, I don’t blame Sarah for missing the biggest part of what made #Americant elect such a buffoon. Then again, the same #Americants did elect that other buffoon, Dubya, don’t you know. And just so we’re clear here. Barry-O and Bill Blowjob Clinton were not buffoons. And that’s the ticket, ain’t it, dear worst-reader? A good summary of buffoon-hood might be just enough to send whoever over the edge of knowing a bit more than he or she knew before thanks to faux newz, Rush Limbaugh, and the love of being really, really, really STUPID. Indeed. When it comes to knowing something… about politics… Don’t ask an #Americant.

But let us digress.

Hiding In Plain Sight is nothing less than brilliant–if you’re interested in understanding some of the stupidity behind not just #Trump but also what he stands for, how he actually raped his first wife Invana, and, where necessary, as little as possible about his ugly, disgusting and perfectly distracting clown hair. With that in worst-mind, Sarah Kendzior codifies from begin to end the political life and times of President Stupid–and what he really is. And she does it in about four hundred or so pages. From my POV that means #Trump is a thin book with an ugly hair-do-cover but Sarah is smarter than most to be able to make it all palatable. If I could afford it I’d buy hundreds of copies of this book and hand them out to everyone I see–while wearing gloves, a face mask, and after spraying each book with a bit of #Trump disinfectant.

So what’s missing in this book–and what’s missing in most summary’s (CliffsNotes) of what gave the world The Donald aka #Americant? As I’ve said through out this worst-blog, the thing that must not be forgotten or overlooked is the class system that voted for this guy, especially the ignorant and greedy middle-class that thinks/believes it is the chosen people. Too few actually call this class out, of course. I mean. Obviously. To call out this class of greed mongering gluttons… is nothing short of blasphemy. Hence, welcome to my expatriate world of worst-writing. And so. Faux-Newz does have an audience, or? Limbaugh & Co. has been talking to someone all these years. Am I wrong? #MAGA hats sell well, don’t you know.

The #okboomer generation is filled with closeted haters and bigots and spite-rearing automatons all of whom are reflected in the #Trump mirror. Add to that the fact that these people feel as though the world owes them… Indeed. What a mirror $hitshow. But how many actually look at the/their mirror? The last number I heard was sixty-two million. Sixty-two million greed mongers, who, like #Trump, have never been able to grow-up and out of the shadow of their parentage, voted for this guy because, well, they hate women, they don’t understand the difference between newz and propaganda like Joseph Goebbels does, and they never read It Can’t Happen Here, or anything else intellectual. Indeed. Of course. The other number is sixty-five million. That’s the number that voted for Hillary. But get this, dear worst-reader. Sixty-two million haters, bigots, greed-mongers combined with faux newz is obviously a lot more powerful than sixty-five million (plus the eight to ten million smart-asses that voted “independent”) who are obviously trapped in the rainbow of a unicorns arse. In fact, sixty-two million is enough to overlook, as Sarah & Co. do, because there are so many fascinating details about one man, his hair, and that mouth that looks just like an anus puckering atop a golden toilet jut before it expels a huge…

As good as this book is, it fails to call-out the real problem–just like everything/everyone else out there that think they have answers about my beloved & missed #Americant. So take a seat, dear worst-reader, and give my answers a go.

Or maybe not.

There is at least two generations of #Americants that have lived an unearned life of luxury and status unseen in all of human history. Hence the Disney/McDonalds/CocaCola/War nationalistic vernacular of exceptional, #MAGA, that hair, etc. And when I worst-say unearned, I mean: considering the state of debt-economics1 in #Americant today, it’s no wonder that all these people can do is either vote for more greed or more war or just hate women–as the likes of faux newz spews the only truth they know. Indeed. And so. These generations of #Americants have hell-to-pay, which is reason enough to have a mindless moron with yellow cotton-candy pee-pee-hair as… their a new & improved #MAGA-hat dear leader. What else are these millions of greed mongers to do?

Seriously. Someone. Please. Get rid of faux newz. Otherwise. All those who/that come after, will just learn to disguise their… pee-pee hair.

But before I get too far off on worst-writer’s ranting and raving about who and what worst-moi is, what I believe, and what I ran away from, let me get back to this great summary (CliffsNotes) of what/who #Trump is. Sarah Kendzior has put together a must-read for anyone that is willing and able to give President Pee-Pee-Hair a second look. For those who already hate the guy, there’s not much here. And even though I grew up with #Trump and already know what kind of idiot he and his NYC ilk really are, I’m glad that Sarah Kendzior wrote this book. It relieves me of some of the pain of being an expatriate #Americant on the verge of relinquishing my citizenship due to the ugliness and disgust I ran away from.

The only question that remains with me, and, of course Sarah Kendzior can’t answer, is what’s next for the sixty-two plus sixty-five million that are capable of this much blatant and outright gun-toting, nuclear warhead, stupidity?

Good luck suckers.

Rant and read on.

-T


  1. Economic debt being synonymous with riding on the backs of others because, well, you can’t do anything for yourself, etc. ↩︎

Zombie Virus Or Just A Bad Flu

world war z cover

Pseudo-review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Note: To skip all the/my worst-writing, the actual pseudo-review of this book is just a scroll or two or thrice downwards.

And now…

Not sure if this makes since, dear worst-reader. So I appreciate you indulging me. Here’s a worst-writer fact for ya: I was never, ever afraid of horror movies as a kid. In fact, although the movie rating-system in my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant was not so heavily enforced at the time, I pretty much watched/saw any and every film I ever wanted to see–even before I was a teen. But my youthful rowdy behaviour is neither here nor there. For I am born and reared: #Americant, baby.

Horror films were everywhere by the late 1970s. In fact, in the whole Hollywood horror genre of my beloved & missed #Americant youth, there was nothing on the big screen–at least in the shape of monsters, goblins or ghosts, etc.–that scared me. I attribute this super-power to having faced the worst kind of childhood: loneliness and fatherlessness. Oh wait. Before I get-off on making this worst-post about my #Americant bastardisation…

By the time I could go to movies on my own, during my mid to late teens, albeit being dropped off by a parent here or there, I used to have a ball in the cinema teasing who ever I was with–especially a sister, a neighbour friend, or Chad–that older false cousin who even got me a fake ID that turned my fifteen years into eighteen. Anywho. The fun of horror movies was observing others either tremble or try not to tremble while watching The Omen, Dawn of the Dead, Halloween, etc. Of course. Later. Things got really fun for me when I started going to the movies on “dates”–as opposed to going with friendly neighbours. Scaring the “date” with a poke here or a poke there during whatever gore scene was a blast as she screamed and yelped and whined. Eventually, though. All that fun had to succumbed to cop a feel where, if timed correctly, lead to some serious second-base action–no matter what was on the big screen. But. Again. Nuff about me.

A girl went to a horror flick with me once and stayed the whole time on her knees in the row directly between my knees, mostly because she was terrified by whatever gore-fest I took her to watch. Did I trick her by saying I didn’t know it was a horror movie and thereby just happened to get the best BJ of my youthful life? Who knows. My worst-point is this: I never fell for the illusion-of-truth (verisimilitude) that was supposed to be “horror” in the realm of celluloid story telling, which wasn’t the case with other movie genres. And here’s the reason why.

I was never afeared of horror movies because fear of another kind beat it to the punch. Indeed. Blood and guts meant nothing compared to a good ol’fashion suspense-thriller. Hold a sec. Let me worst-splain. By my late teens I was an experienced hunter and fisherman. I also killed bats while cleaning tobacco barns. If you’ve never done such a thing, dear worst-reader, trust me when I say that not only killing bats is gross but hanging around where they hang around–and shit–is worst. I even put down old horses with a ten gauge shotgun once and then chainsawed off their legs in order to fit them in the back of a pick-up truck that would hall them off for glue production. With that in worst-mind, horror movies were just silly to me. Suspense movies, on the other hand, scared the living bee-gee-zees out of me. In fact, they scared me so much my mind would be boggled for days after watching one. They gave me nightmares, too. I experienced excessive sleep loss. I had #Americant anti-disney PTSD, don’t you know. And all that long before PTSD was a thing. Oh wait. Scratch that. I came of age during the end of Vietnam war. PTSD was alive and well then. It just had a different brand(ing), don’t you know. Anywho.

Fear of suspense movies, by-the-buy, made horror flicks a fun-fest for me. But put me in a huge claustrophobic movie house with a thriller with shit that could actually be real–as in real-life… Holy krapp, dear worst-reader. Yeah, I almost wet myself when a chick tricked me into going to a dollar showing of Rear Window. And so. Hence. Ever since I became a young intellectual, a pseudo-know-it-all, a wannabe well-read anti-automaton, I’ve always claimed to hate Alfred Hitchcock–even though the opposite is true. Seriously. Rear Window and Vertigo usually sent me to that place between my dates knees, low in the row of her cinema seat–to her satisfaction, of course, don’t you know.

By-the-buy. The movie that scared me the most and set the stage for preferring the horror-genre was The Poseidon Adventure. I saw it when I was, like, nine. Here a bit more on that. Indeed. To this day. I can’t help but think of (fat but luscious) Shelly Winters whenever I go swimming. I also will never board a cruise ship. In short, I’m a real chicken-$hit when it comes to suspense.

But here’s the thing, dear worst-reader. For most of my adult life, I kinda dug the movies. I mean. I preferred live theatre when available—especially since moving to #Eurowasteland. But a good movie here or there? That’s the ticket. Yet. Things changed in the last ten to fifteen years. I’ve kinda quit going to the movies. I’ve even already sickened of streaming services. Reason? Movie making has gone to $hit. I just can’t find a connection to any of it. It’s as though Hollywood, over the years, has over done it. Actually, that’s kind of a nice way to put it. What I really mean to say about Hollywood is this. As I’ve gotten older, seen too many movies, I think they’ve simply run out of creativity.

Still. Some stuff intrigued me. Like the whole horror sub-genre known as Zombies. WTF is up with Zombies? I mean. Come on. Even though I’ve long since grown out of my horror movie fascination, and certainly don’t need to cop-a-feel anymore, I can’t help but be curious. Thank goodness for the various clips and shorts available by the Interwebnets, eh. So I couldn’t help but notice, over the years, how people are eating up the Zombie genre. I mean. There are Zombie movies, Zombie comedies, Zombie walks (yes, as in, go for a walk dressed as a Zombie), and various Zombie TV shows.

Why?

Thanks for asking, dear worst-reader. Here’s worst-writer’s theory about the Zombie craze.

First. The zombie genre is the first purely American aka Hollywood horror creation. I mean. Get this. Ghost stories, the undead, monsters, etc., have a long history in the mind-catacombs of #Eurowasteland and corresponding literature. But until the Zombie thing came along, America had nothing. Luckily the Zombie thing fits a particular mentality, which means Hollywood has probably found the money-recipe that appeals to so many and they’ve been running (away) with it ever since. Good for them, eh.

Second(1). How has the horror genre lasted so long? Horror movies of my youth were an answer to the suspense movies that would eventually scare the bee-gee-zees out of me. Yet. For the last fifty or so years, it doesn’t feel like suspense movies have, for lack of better cinematic vocabulary, moved on (like the diversification of the horror genre). I suppose I could say the same thing about other genres, aka Dramas, Sci-fi, Comic (movies based on comics–aghast!) But horror? These things have gone full evolution (or is it devolution?) I mean. The first horror movie to ever tickle my bee-gee-zees button (as in scare me) was Saw. Of course, the blood and guts didn’t scare me from that film. For, don’t you know, dear worst-reader, no horror movie director has ever had to rid a local barn of bats. And so. Suspense scared me. Under other economic and social circumstances, a movie like Saw might have even driven me mad. Btw. I should also note that I tried to watch other Saw movies. Since they are all just redundant, pseudo-repeats of the first, those initial bee-gee-zee scares were quickly wiped away. Again. IMHO Hollywood has a serious creativity problem. Oh. Wait.

But I’m off worst-subject again. Stop the presses. Rewind. Start again.

Second(2). To worst-writer, the success of the Zombie genre over the years is what I like to call a two way mirror. A two way mirror is where/when people look at the mirror, they know it’s a mirror, they know that someone on the other side is looking back at them, but they don’t care because, well, it’s still just a mirror image and we all know that a mirror image isn’t necessarily real. And so. The Zombie genre seems to be an ever flowing revenue stream for Hollywood because it doesn’t really need much creativity to keep turning out more and more product–it just needs to point that mirror. It needs to make sure that the zombies never really, actually, literally, show #Americants the other side of their two-way.

But I die-gress.

The first zombie movie I saw was 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. It has remained in my mind as the quintessential #Americant horror movie. Reason? It was set in a shopping mall. It is about shoppers in that shopping mall–all of whom are afraid for their lives. What better imagery is there than to show reality in a mirror, fill it with gore, add a bunch of weaponry and racism, and don’t forget sexual tension but no nudity, and there you have it. George Romero is a fcuking genius. Of course. Dawn of the Dead was Romero’s second Zombie movie. The first having been shot ten years prior to Dawn. I think it took me twenty years before seeing his first one–but it wasn’t as good as Dawn. Anywho.

To worst-writer, the Zombie genre is perfect for current #Americant misconstrued political and social ideals, especially for those who cling to such ideals. The essence of the #Americant fail-upward-ness that is the greed $hitshow cannot function unless misconstrued individualism reeks of spite, bigotry, hate–and the desire/need to see the death of what is in the mirror. It is a very binary thing, don’t you know. Not unlike the so-called bipartisan pseudo-governance, aka politics, that is red and blue states. It’s also the perfect mismatch for #Americant never facing its demons, especially the demon of slavery, rich v. poor, winner-take-all and all the losers left behind, or who and whatever else is in that mirror. And so. To bring things back around… The Zombie genre is perfect for audiences to avoid the mirror that is #Americant life–i.e. avoid reality. Hence, consumerism does have a price when mixed with too much Mikey Mouse. Eh?

Which brings me to the only Zombie movie that ever, kinda, moved me–above and beyond the thrills of horror. It happened on a flight across the Atlantic to visit Mom a few years back. Although I had planned to read and do some worst-writing on the flight, I scanned through the movie offering and there was Brad Pitt’s Zombie film. Sure, I thought. I can kill two hours out of the eight to watch this film. Besides. I had heard about the film. I had read about its production problems. There was also something out there in the ether about the book it was based on. And so. A few years later. Last week to be exact. I caught World War Z on Amazon Prime–again. I thought: yeah, I should re-watch this on account I missed a few things here and there while watching it on a plane with that horrific little backseat screen and awful audio. Also. I’ve since heard a few more things about the book–on account of all this/that about viruses. So I watched the movie again. I let it percolate through my mind that night. The next morning, last Thursday, I discovered that Amazon was offering the e-book of World War Z by Max Brooks for something like three fcuking Euros. I finished the book Easter Sunday morning, 2020.

Pseudo-review of World War Z by Max Brooks.

Let me begin with the negative.

It makes no sense to me why such a great writer/thinker would subject himself to writing this book. Did Max Brooks get up one day and think to himself: how the heck can I sell my compulsion? Oh. Hey. I’ll write about Americans–as Zombies. I’ll show them the mirror they refuse to look at–but instead dance around with guns and violence and war and false-happy. But then some publishing big shot called him up–surely a friend or foe of his father (the grand Mel Brooks) and said: just do it, dude. Just write about the brainlessness of Americans and… with that name of yours… we’ll sell it.

Let me end with the positive.

Max Brooks nails it. This has to be one of the best reinterpretations (or is it regurgitation) of #Americant story telling–ever. Wait. Is this a first? Not sure. From the get-go, the first third of the book kept me very interested. The second third of the book trailed along the first. The last third of the book is a bit winded (i.e. weak) but I was so glad that the whole thing didn’t degrade into anything like the Hollywood mess that was the movie, I was happy to read every word to the end. And on that note… The thing from the mediocre Brad Pitt movie that interested me was how the fight against Zombies was not unlike the fight against an enemy within. It was, eventually, my hope that the book would double down on the enemy-within–and it did–whereas the movie screwed the pooch. But let’s move on.

A chronicle of a world war against Zombies based on interviews with participants? Again. Brilliant. And how Brooks holds it all together with some seriously good writing. He even threads here or there a few snipes of social and political reality, i.e. addressing man’s non-sensical, if not whimsical, allowance/enabling of so much gluttonous behaviour–that can only result in Zombies. I mean. What a silly genre, really, for so much social commentary–hidden or not (in the back of that two-way mirror). Zombies. Yet the author maintains a level of literary bent that can even interest the best of the best of us pseudo-intellectual wannabes, making the undead not only entertaining but important. Good for you, Max! Us failed/worst writers salute you.

Rant on.

-T

Helmet, Helmut And Yo-Yo

Secondary title: Pseudo-Review of the Abus Hyban bike helmet with visor.

Perhaps some of you are too young to know. So allow worst-writer to explain yet another worst-title. In the movie Night On Earth by Jim Jarmusch a really bad taxi driver from the (then) recent former East Germany picks up a New Yorker in New York City and his name is Yo-Yo. While these two drive around NYC and have what Jarmusch portrays as the time of their lives, they also try to figure out their names. That is, Yo-Yo can’t understand the difference between the name Helmut and a helmet, i.e. protective gear one may or may not wear on ones head. Helmut thinks Yo-yo was named after a child’s toy. #Nomatter. The audience is given one of the best comic duos in cinematic history that is only comparable to Abbot and Costello. If you haven’t seen it (the whole movie), give it a look, dear worst-reader. Boy do I miss the days when movies were made like that. You know, creative movies. Works of art. Etc. That worst-said…

Late last summer during what I consider to be the worst bike riding year of my worst-life, I decided I needed to do something about being a bespectacled bike rider. Or have you never been there, dear worst-reader? You know. You’re cruising along and you know it’s eventually coming, and then it does, and suddenly you’re riding through nature as it unleashes rain rain rain rain. #Nomatter what you do, your standard and/or traditional bike helmet (or even hat) won’t/can’t protect your eyewear from being covered in rain drops. And so, when you arrive at your destination, which in my case is usually an out-door market where I gather fresh veggies and sometimes fresh hunted pheasant (from Guido the French/German pheasant hunter), everyone (including Guido) would stare at me with sympathy as they could see the misery in my blurred, foggy, soaked glasses face.

“It’s a bitch riding in the rain, eh.” Indeed.

And so. I decided then and there it was time to take action (which usually means spend money) on one of them new fancy bike helmets that includes a visor. Being the cheap-skate that I am, though, I searched for days both online and in a bike store here or there for a consume-to-survive product that fit my budget. Since this was my first helmet with a visor for bike riding, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. Hence, this is the moment where corporate branding comes into play and a bit of online research can help–or not. As you can see (pics above), I decided for the another Abus branded helmet1.

Here’s my visor helmet buying advice short and sweet: steer clear from this one.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s obviously a good helmet. It’s well made, it’s very sturdy and exudes safety, and, I guess, it’s practical. With that in mind, here’s why I wouldn’t buy it again and only recommend it with the following thoughts:

  • Feels heavy, huge and bulky and kinda looks funny (on worst-rider’s head)
  • On an e-bike constantly traveling the gut wrenching speed of 25kmh, it’s freaking obnoxiously loud due to airflow
  • Directs air/wind into your ears and as you can see in the pics, I’m jimmying2 it to see if I can better control the airflow (I don’t think it’s working, though)
  • The chin strap sucks and is uncomfortable with or without included chin strap protector, which I’ve ripped off and thrown away while singing good riddance motherfcuker
  • Mechanism to adjust chin-strap length detaches but luckily, since it’s magnetic, when it detaches I don’t lose the connector but I have retraced my riding path after I thought I lost half of the strap connector only to realise the strap had come lose but the connector was attached to the other connector, blah, blah, blah (see pic with red pointer)

The good news is, even though I wouldn’t buy it again and all of my complaints have not motivated me to send it back, the adjustable visor perfectly protects my glasses from not only rain but also cold wind. And that’s a big deal, don’t you know. It’s a big deal on account, at my age (pushing sixty, bitch!), cold air constantly blowing in my eyes can be quite irritating. Oh. And. I bought the friggin’ thing discounted, about 80-,€. It’s retail price was well over 100,-€ (at the time). What a bargain, eh. (Sarcasm off.)

The main problem with this helmet is the airflow along with its weight and size. When riding it feels as though cold air is being directed to my inner ear. Also, because of airflow, it’s friggin’ loud. This winter I’ve been riding with ear plugs plus a heavy skull cap that covers both my ears. Since I ordered the largest (size) helmet, I can fit quite a bit underneath it. But. Again. That makes it large and bulky. It does have an easy adjuster for fitting and/or tightening it to fit your head. The visor is easily adjustable too but airflow is influenced whether it’s up or down–again, making it either loud or louder when riding. Luckily adjusting the visor is no problem, even when using only one hand, i.e while riding. In warm weather the helmet is hot, and when it’s cold, well, you get the picture.

Is it well made? Yes. Does the safety light on the back work? Yes. Is it safe? I guess it is–if not for the weird, cumbersome chin strap. But at this point, the only reason I wear it, needed it, is because it’s been raining for months and months and months. Not a day goes by that I have to ride and it’s not raining–since friggin October of last year. And so. The only thing good about this helmet is that it’s great for protecting my glasses/eyes from the weather.

Rant on.

-T

PS. Yes. According to the pics above, I voted in the Democratic primary via Democrats Abroad of my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant. As a former Democrat, and considering the direction THE LAND OF FREE TO BE STUPID has done since, gee, I don’t know, the end of the cold war, Bush and his wars of choice and, now, of course, President Stupid with the pee-pee hair, I thought it appropriate if I voted for a democratic socialist that might turn #Americant socialism for the rich into a bit of socialism for the down-trodden. Since it’s becoming more and more obvious that Bernie ain’t gonna get the nomination, I’m still glad I participated. Or maybe not. Oh well. Rant on, baby.


  1. We only have Abus bike helmets. For motorcycles, though, I prefer Shoei or Arai. ↩︎
  2. Fiddling, rigging, changing it, etc. ↩︎

“Dantons Tod” And No Gilets Jaunes?

dhaus_dantons_tod2_8719m (c) Thomas Aurin.jpg
Pic: Thomas Aurin, Source: see link at end of post

Get this, dear worst-reader. While I was walking through its front doors, which seem to be in a perpetual state of renovation, discard and renewal for the last couple of years, my better half asked me when was the last time I saw a play at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus. Wow, I thought. It has to be at least a decade. Or what about fifteen years? But then I tried to think of the last play I saw there. As I write this, dear worst-reader, I can’t remember the most recent play I saw there. Shame on me, eh. I can remember vividly one of the first plays I saw there. It was Waiting For Godot. That must have been, if my worst-memory serves me correctly, ca. 1991. And it was outside of the iconic building, in the now under construction courtyard. It was a magnificent production. But I digress.

Yeah, it’s been a while. With that in worst-mind, my better half bought us two 2nd row, right in the middle tickets, for Danton’s Death by George Büchner. And while I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen a play at this particular venue, I do remember the fact that this viewing of Dantons Tod would place it at the top of my most viewed plays list. Indeed. This would be my third viewing of Dantons Tod. The only other plays that come close are Hamlet, Waiting For Godot, Endgame, Street Car Named Desire, all of which I’ve seen staged at least twice. Which begs the worst-question. Will I see Danton a fourth time? Or. Oh how I’m due to see Godot again.

Critics weren’t fond of this staging of Dantons Tod, a few of which I read after seeing it. And although I try not to play worst-critic, I thought it was a perfectly acceptable staging including all the text manipulations (re-write), character and gender role changes (re-write) and a bit of flamboyant ensemble pseudo-dancing that included the excessive dispersion of fake blood and other gore, which made it, at times, to the 2nd row. Then again, this is a play not only about the main characters of the French Revolution but also about collective terror and self-inflicted madness. With that in worst-mind, there is one small thing I cannot accept about the staging of this brilliant piece of art.

While mentally preparing myself to enjoy such a viewing in a pretty cool theatrical venue, I couldn’t stop knowing/thinking/hoping that this staging would include something as relevant as yellow vests. Half way to the intermission of a three hour production, there was not one yellow vest to be seen. Once we returned to our seat after the intermission (bier for worst-moi and a glass of white wine for my better-half), there was still no yellow vest. WTF!

As I may or may not have worst-said in this worst-blog, I am a Francophile. Not only that, but I am also a Neo-Jacobin1. How the hell can anyone stage such a play at such a time and not include, in one form/style/way or another, a fcuking yellow vest? It’s bad enough that most of the world’s press doesn’t cover what’s going on in France but is it also necessary for a theatre director who is making/re-writing what is probably the most profound theatrical analysis of the world’s greatest social and political revolution–that even tops the revolution of my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant–and not include at least some minor reference to what is obviously connected to that revolution to this day? One of the most profound things about the French, about being French, is how they are able to connect to their history not only through nationality, borders and language but also through a culture of unyielding distrust of government, authority and power. France today, IMHO, is the only remaining beacon of hope against the likes of #Trump, #Brexit, hate and collective fear-mongering. And that’s coming from an expat #Americant that’s been living amongst fcuking automaton Germans (The Borg) for the past thirty gottdamn years. Come on Armin Petras!

Indeed. This is a very acceptable production and a grand effort on the part of the director (re-writer) Armin Petras, including the guillotine-like stage-build by Olaf Altmann. Not only that but Danton (Wolfgang Michalek) made me cry (tears of joy), Robespierre (Lieke Hoppe) and her mane made me wish for more of a female Robespierre, and I really enjoyed the brief but utterly self-indulgent integration of Toussaint Louverture (Ron Iyamu)–who is not even in the original play, hence re-write by the director. Also, at the link below Toussaint Louverture is accredited with being “a former slave” when in fact he is the black Jacobin of history’s only black rebellion against slavery which took place in Haiti, 1791. You can read about Toussaint Louverture, by-the-buy, in The Black Jacobins by CLR James. Yeah, I’ve been meaning to worst-write something about that one. In the mean time, here and here is a bit more about my love/admiration for all things French and/or French Revolution. And so. Enough of worst-writer as worst-theatre-critic.

Go see a play, dear worst-reader. I’m so glad I did.

Rant on.

T

Links:
https://www.dhaus.de/programm/a-z/dantons-tod/#


  1. Neo Jacobin, according to worst-writer, is a Jacobin who has learned from the mistakes of the reign of terror but adheres whole heartily to the annihilation of monarchs, ridding the world of unearned wealth, i.e. aristocracy and pseudo-aristrocacy and, where applicable, eating the fcuking useless rich. ↩︎

Pods, Ears, Tech Mediocre Galore

Pseudo-review of Soundcore earbuds, baby.

Consuming to survive, dear worst-reader. How’s it going for you? Otherwise, I bought these earbuds a few months back while you-know-who/what online store had a sale. Got them for half-price, too, don’t you know. But I suppose I should also give credit where it’s due regarding how I bought something that I thought I wouldn’t buy–at least until I upgrade my iPhone 6s and thereby get a phone jack out of my life. For that’s the ticket, ain’t it dear worst-reader? For most of my dog-walking and podcast listening pleasure over the past few years, I’ve been using the original earbuds that Apple provides with their phones–phone-jack n’all. I’m actually a fan of the Apple design earbuds, too. If they weren’t so expensive I’d be using Apple wireless earbuds, too. Instead, I got these earbuds after my son bought them and I was able to try them. He actually ended up sending his back and buying another set from another brand because he said these don’t have enough bass. Goodness knows there’s plenty to choose from in this arena–and I’m not a bass fan anywho. I was so impressed with these that when I saw them marked down to 55,-€… I was all over them. Which brings me to the main issue, eh. Do they actually work?

Telephony.

In short, they work great if you don’t…

  • make a phone call while walking
  • use them when it’s windy
  • walk in the city where there’s lots of traffic (noise)
  • try to make a call using only the right earbud, etc.

As a headset for telephony, they only work if you’re using them where there’s absolutely no ambient noise and you’re not moving around.

Music.

For music listening they work much better than the wired earbuds from Apple. In fact, I’ve been so impressed with music play that I’ve actually found myself listening to music again via my iPhone. For don’t you know, dear worst-reader, I stopped listening to music via my iPhone because 1) I hate iTunes and 2) I hate listening to music through headsets, whether in-ear or over-ear. Not sure if these are gonna turn me into a regular earbud music listener, though. Indeed. I doubt it.

In summary.

These are my first true wireless bluetooth earbuds. I had wired bluetooth earbuds but I misplaced them and they never turned up again. The only reason I bought these is because they were half price and my Apple wired earbuds were literally worn-out. Once I found out how bad they are with telephony, I was on the verge of sending them back. I changed my mind on account I like the design and the way they fit in my ear. Since I don’t telephone much, that ain’t that important. Battery life is also pretty good. I use them twice a day during dog walks which means they last for a whole week. The other odd them about them is that I have to plug them in, unplug them and then plug them back in (in that oder) to get them to charge via USB. Obviously these earbuds are a bit of a hassle. I certainly won’t buy them again. But they do serve their purpose.

Oh well.

Rant (and consume) on, baby.

-T

Pseudo-Review: R&M Charger GX 9000km, Sprained Shoulder, Battery Degradation

2019 has been a bad year, dear fellow worst-rider. Bad because, well, I’ve not been riding much this year. Usually, within a half-year, I can easily ride for a 1000km or more. Are things starting to wane in my e-bike joy? Or maybe it’s the weather? Yeah, blame it on the weather–and never mention all the/that drink and substance that make one love/live the good life. Or, maybe, just maybe, this damn e-bike has turned me into a lazy mother-effer with too much wobble around my middle aged waist. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s go with lazy.

While worst-writing about wobble and middle age… Get this. I fcuking sprained my shoulder on a tour the other day and the cause of that sprain was my fcuking über e-bike–and a tarp. While riding past the infamous Bayer factory in Leverkusen last Saturday, a gust of wind dismantled a heavy advertising tarp that was attached to a make-shift fence that secured a construction site. My handle bars got caught-up in the tarp. At that moment I probably mixed up braking with peddling. Because of the peddling a sudden surge of power pushed me further into the tarp and caused my handlebars, front wheel  to twist. Before I knew it I was catapulted into the roadway, ripping the tarp off the fence, and to prevent me from being thrown over the bars my left arm became my only point of contact with the bike. The entanglement with the tarp and the bike, forces being multiplied by a surging motor that thought it was going up a hill or something, brought everything to a sudden halt as I focused solely on not flipping over the handlebars–and into oncoming automobile traffic. Once I finally got everything to stop I let the bike drop on the road–stopping a few cars. For a moment I thought my left arm was not only disjointed but hanging by ligaments. The pain was excruciating. In fact, as I worst-write this, a week later, I’m just now able to type because I can finally lift my arm high enough to rest it on my desk. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to ride all week. But things are improving and I’ll be back in the saddle soon enough.

Moving on.

The only issue after surpassing 9000km on my über e-bike that I have to worst-write (complain?) about is the battery. But before I get to that, as you’ll note with my other worst-posts, this year I’ve finally taken the dive into urbanising my über e-bike. That is, by changing the tyres (tires) from knobs (rock razor) to street (super Moto-x), also changing the front sprocket from 14-16 (or 16-18???), and then shortening the handlebar width one inch each side, I’ve taken a hard-tail mountain bike and turned it into a souped-up, smooth ridin’, road-soakin’, somewhat aggressive styled, cruiser. And I’m still sportin’ that awesome curry colour that I worst-love so much–and differentiates me from, say, Pee-Wee Herman and his bike. But let’s get-on about the battery.

My battery is dying. Good thing I have two, eh! Now don’t get me wrong, dear fellow worst-rider. I’m not gonna bitch & moan about this too much. For one thing, even though I hate the whole proprietary bull$hit of owning battery power, I’m sold on Bosch. Keep in mind, I not only splurged by buying a Riese & Mueller über expensive e-bike, but I bought two of them. And one of the consolations for doing so was that I’d thereby get an extra battery. And don’t worry. With the way I ride, I was right NOT to buy a duel-battery bike. Anywho. My better-half has the Charger Mixte and we both have 500w batteries. Since my wife doesn’t ride that much, we always knew that my battery would die first. But then I’d be able to use her battery as a supplement till I replaced mine. The question has always been, the question I face now: do I replace with 80% degradation? 70%? Etc.?

Although I’ve known (felt) my battery was getting weaker and weaker since around 5000km, battery degradation is finally obvious. I suppose, after two and half years, almost using it every day, this is to be expected. Yet, as the reality of a battery replacement nears, especially considering the cost, a few thoughts do linger. And. Remember. This ain’t bitchin’ & moaning. Or?

First. Why the hell doesn’t Bosch have some kind of battery replacement program that doesn’t require one to have to just buy a totally new battery? Wouldn’t that be a more ecological solution? I mean, these batteries are nothing more than a bunch of cells in a heavy duty casing. Although I haven’t looked, I’m sure there are mods out there that allow one to just replace the cells, but then one enters the world of… stepping on Bosch’s profits, voiding warranties, fiddling with the powers-that-be. Since I’m not into fighting the man when it comes to my e-bike needs, I’ll obviously have to just buy a new battery–and I will. Still. As e-bikes become more and more ubiquitous, it’s time to start facing the ecological reality of having to deal with a world of dead batteries–that weigh upon us like bricks, bricks of money, effort and construed chemicals. Ugh.

Second, let me worst-write a bit about my battery degradation experience and the part that seems to hurt my e-bike riding soul (wallet) so much. There’s the obvious reduction of distance travelled, don’t you know. Where I once could easily hit 20km per bar, I’m now down to about 10km per bar. On the last two long distance rides I took, I was barely able to ride 60km. Granted, one ride was a mountain ride and the other a flat road ride, and I’m not going to get into the power delivery settings. But I do ride the majority of the time in either sport mode or tour. This year I’ve rarely ridden in eco or turbo–unless I face a mountain or want to stretch power to get me home. Also, of the five bars indicated on the screen, the last two bars seem to wither away long before the same distance travelled on the top three bars. Wait. Let me put that another way.

I think–and I’m kinda worst-guessing here–I was barely able to ride 5km on each of the last two bars of my battery. If that’s true, then I’m seeing the same thing in my Bosch über-battery that I’ve seen with, say, my iPhone battery. I’m sure there are e-bike riders (if not smart-phone users) with more interest in studying battery degradation, but my worst-guess is, I’m pretty much where the attached pic (see pic above taken from Bosch website) is regarding battery life. Indeed. Just like the batteries on phones, laptops, etc., once they surpass a certain capacity, time of use–they empty and/or degrade faster. In other worst-words, not only is the end-of-life of the battery exponential (pic above), but the same seems to apply to power delivery. If only there was a way to extend/postpone buying a new battery by adding a supplemental battery like I was able to do with my iPhone (see pic). Wouldn’t that be cool–even if it’s all a bit ugly? That’s right. I’m still using an iPhone 6s, baby. Stop laughing. Gotta save money somewhere to afford the e-bike, eh!

But enough about worst-moi and my über e-bike antics. The thing is, I’m still really diggin’ this e-bike. I especially love R&M quality. Even though I’m gonna have to make another major investment in it to keep it going, which will coincide well with all the other investments, i.e. tires, chains, sprockets, my fcuking left arm, etc., does this mean I’ll even keep it next year when it might be time to replace it? That’s right, dear fellow worst-rider, this über e-bike, upon purchase, was arbitrarily given an ownership life-span, of three years. For that’s the ticket, ain’t it dear fellow worst-rider? I’m not only up for a new e-bike next year, but do I really need to replace this piece of über-German-engineering grandness?

Stay tuned, baby.

Rant (and ride safe) on.

-T

Pseudo-Review: To Sit Or To Stand

Consumed-to-survive me one of them fancy-pants Ikea electric adjustable desks a few months back, dear worst-reader. And don’t you know, it’s a pretty half-decent, fairly useable thing–if you need/should stand while worst-writing. Luckily for worst-moi, as you can see in the pic above, the smallest version of the desk fits perfectly into the only remaining wall space of my mancave. It’s like having an adjustable corner to stare into the light/darkness of my brain as pseudo-ness-galore swirls around dribbling words of nonsense. Or maybe not.

After a rough start, dear worst-reader, I’ve been impressed with this desk. Why the heck it’s so expensive, I can’t say. But isn’t everything we think we need expensive? That’s how they get us, right? Even though desks of this type are pricey, and this one might lack in a bit of bling-bling compared to others, it definitely holds its own. I mean, five hundred or so Euros ain’t nothing to shake a worst-stick at. And that was the biggest hindrance to getting the thing in the first place. Yet, after a few months of use, slowly un-regretting buying it, getting a hang on how the thing works, I’m actually impressed. Oh. Wait. It should have more variety in colours. Yeah, my better half made sure I understood that. She hates the colour. Nomatter.

For five hundred or so Euros and you get a very solid, adjustable desk. And when I say solid, I mean the desktop is waaaaay sturdy. In fact, one of the things I really like about it is that when I’m sitting down and I’m done working, even though it doesn’t touch the wall for support–on account there has to be some space from the wall so that the desk can rise up and down–I can still push on it so that my seat can roll out from underneath. The desk doesn’t shift or move at all. Indeed. A very sturdy desk whether used while standing or sitting. Even though I don’t use one anymore, I think it would even work well as a sturdy undercarriage when typing on one of my old mechanical typewriters. Ah. A moment of nostalgia, eh. Sturdy under-carriages galore while typing…? Moving on.

Typical for Ikea desks, this one also has one of those net thingies underneath it for holding/organising cables. Although during assembly I managed to break one of the mounts that holds the net and I haven’t yet bothered to fix it, it works. I was so pissed at the moment I broke it, don’t you know. Why and h-e-double-toothpicks does Ikea instruct one to use a real–as in metal–hammer to hammer in cheap, plastic mounts in order to secure the net? First, using a hammer like that means there’s no feel regarding how much force is required for the mounts. I broke the first one. After that I inserted the mounts with my fingers and then carefully went over them with a rubber hammer to make sure they were secure and in place. If hit too hard, though, the rubber hammer might break the mounts, as well. Anywho. The net has enough mounts that one missing doesn’t seem to effect it. Come on, Ikea!

The only gripe I have with this desk is height adjustment. Although sleek and discreet, the lever works fine and the desk raises and lowers smoothly. Height adjustment is a bit of an oddity, though. If you bother to research/shop for this type of desk, you’ll find there are others that offer better height control. Unfortunately for me those other products aren’t readily available where I live, plus, when compared with all the bling-bling, this desk is very competitive. Bling-bling here or there, this desk isn’t less functional. That is, other brands offer preset buttons for desk height. I thought that was something I needed. When asked, Ikea simply said that this unit had no presets. Whaaaaaa?

It has presets. When you connect the app, you can set three desk heights. You would think that after setting the heights all you have to do is tap the height setting in the app and the desk will activate accordingly. But that’s not how it works. You still have to use the lever on the desk or the up/down arrows on the app. What isn’t explained anywhere–at least I didn’t find it and the Ikea person I talked to didn’t know either–is that once you have set a preset height, all you have to do is hold the lever and it will go to that preset height and stop. And that’s the ticket. You have to activate the lever. Could this be done differently without breaking the bank? Sure. Why not. It’s just a matter of doing a bit more with the app. Come on Ikea, get your $hit together.

All-in-all this has been a worthwhile purchase. In fact, if they come out with an all white version, my better-half might even get one. As of the writing of this worst-post, they are only available in brown and black desktops with the odd, off-colour (is it beige?) legs. Aghast! Again. Come on Ikea.

Rant (and consume) on.

-T

Please, No More Hair Trimmers And No More Examples Of #Americant Losing Its $hit

Am I on my last hair trimmer, dear worst-reader? At least I hope I’m on my last one. It’s a thing I’m going through right now, don’t you know, in this–the $hit$how that is consume-to-survive. The idear is the following: Pay a little bit more now in the hopes that–if there is such a thing as quality–I don’t have to pay again and again and again later. I mean, come on. This is the (I forget which number) hair trimmer I’ve had to buy in the last ten years. Am I chasing a dream up the wrong bark-less tree here, dear worst-reader? I mean, come on–again. I’m beyond middle age. I lost most of my hair by my mid-thirties. Now I’m mid-fifties and what’s left of my hair just needs to be trimmed down every few days along with a good beard shave and that lustful feel of fresh and stingy aftershave. Goodness knows how much I’ve saved over the years by doing all this without having to go to a barber. But I’m also tired of buying hair trimmers, for fcuk-sake! Then again, at least I don#t live in #Americant anymore, eh. Or did you miss the vid on the interwebnets recently that is yet another example of how a once great nation-state has devolved into a divide & conquer cesspool of THE LAND OF FREE TO BE STUPID? I mean, my problems are ALL about finding the right product to buy, eh. #Americant’s problems are a whole nother $hit$how of stupid-galore. Or am I wrong?

My previous hair trimmer was some odd-named, cheap-o device I bought on you-know-who online shopping website. In the beginning it was a pretty cool device. It charged with a USB cable. It had the proper blade length settings that allowed me to use it without an adapter–as I prefer to keep my fading hair at around 2mm. And I even got a kick out of the little numerical screen that informed me of the battery status–which, once the battery died, was no longer amusing. It was obviously a cheap piece of $hit–even though it did what it was supposed to do for a while. Kinda like #Americant used to be, eh?

But let me give some credit where it’s due. Cheap ain’t always that bad–unless you’re an #Americant and are bitter at the $hit$how you’ve either created or inherited. Sometimes one can get lucky with cheap stuff that works great–especially if you’re a duma$$ #Trump-er with the mindset that is no longer than the hair atop my balding head. For example. I got lucky with stereo speakers and a stereo amp that I bought a few years ago to replace that stupid multi-channel, surround sound system that cost me thousands and drove me crazy and also turned me totally off to multiple channel audio. But that’s neither here nor there. Back to cheap v quality hair trimmers and a bit more about how/why it’s so hard to elevate yourself out of so much stupid when you’ve been reared by it.

My last hair trimmer worked pretty good for about a year–until the battery died a few days ago. But I already worst-said that. That is, the battery wouldn’t hold a charge anymore. What to do, what to do with this consume-to-survive throw-away world we live in, eh? Buying a new battery for it is a choice I suppose but once I saw how fiddly all that would be I gave up on the idear. As best I can remember that was the fourth hair-trimmer (or is it hair-clipper?) I’ve been forced to purchase in the last ten years–each of which as been thrown away and away and away. Even though I have a trusty Braun razor that helds-up much longer, and I even had a Braun hair trimmer once, too, the Braun hair trimmer didn’t last much longer than the cheap one that just died. Plus, the Braun hair trimmer wasn’t as flexible when it came to adjusting for desired hair length. For whatever reason, the powers-that-be at Braun thought that their hair trimmer shouldn’t go below 3mm. That’s just too long for this proudly balding guy. Speaking of proudly balding. Get a load of the vid-link below where the young gun from where-ever bum-fcuk #Americant gets out of his stupid-truck to punch what looks like a guy that could be me.

What the fcuk is going on with #Americant, dear worst-reader? Or am I the only one to notice that THE LAND OF FREE TO BE STUPID is reaching new heights of STUPID? Oh wait. Back to the less politically correct issue of hair trimmers for ageing wannabe hippies like worst-moi.

What is it with making a half decent hair trimmer? Enter the world of half-professional hair trimming equipment–I hope.

I bought Wahl hair clippers (trimmer) the other day at almost half price. Even though the thing is double what a hair trimmer from other makers would cost (i.e. Panasonic, Remington, Braun, etc.), I went with it. Obviously the sale price helped. Aware that this is a real barbershop device, i.e. less forgiving when in the hands of an amateur hair trimmer like my worst-self, I’m hoping that this thing will give me some relief from having to buy another trimmer anytime soon. At the least, if/when the batteries die, I can send it back to Wahl and they’ll put new ones in–or, because of its build quality, I can change the batteries myself–which is just not an option with those other big-brand name devices. Also, if need be, the electrical charging cable can be used to run the Wahl if the battery conks-out. The other hair trimmers I’ve had could only be used while on battery power. Either their cables were too short or the device just didn’t work right when on cable.

The only issue after first use of the Wahl trimmer is the hard and somewhat sharp blades. The other (cheap-o) devices were easier on the scalp when gliding along and trimming. The Wahl has some serious hard edges.

So a question remains in this quest for consume-to-survive autonomy or getting away with as little cost to life as possible. Is it even feasible that this could be the last hair trimmer I buy? Indeed. Questions that need be asked as the silver years approach and those golden years aren’t far off but at least I’m far enough away from #Americant that I don’t have to worry about some stupid whipper-snapper hack-job jumping out of a #MAGA truck just to slap me around because, well, I coined the term #Americant on account the place is going to hell in a hand basket faster than you can say impeach that piece of $hit with the pee-pee hair.

Or maybe not.

Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

-T

Links:
29 yr old punches 69 yr old and all is well in land of free to be stupid (sarcasm off)

Pseudo-Review: Weber Genesis E330 Five Years And Counting

Subtitle: How I got my first brisket on

At last count, dear worst-reader, I think my Weber Grill is five years old. It might be six or even six and half but it’s definitely not seven or even four. Go figure, I lost the purchase receipt. It is said that these über expensive grills are worth every penny–if you can afford them. Or am I the only one to say that–because I can afford them? Nomatter.

The ultimate question for worst-writer when it comes to buying expensive $hit is this: would I buy it again? The answer is: indeed I would. Then again, I happened across the new generation of Weber grills the other week while at a hardware store and I was a bit surprised at their new product line. The equivalent grill’s price has risen so much that I’d be forced to give another brand a look. Napoleon grills come to mind first. But that’s neither here nor there.

The Über Grill, baby.

As you can see in the pics, I have the copper version of the Genesis series that includes the GBS system. I’m not aware anymore what GBS even means. It has something to do with the grill grates and being able to buy über-expensive inserts that enable fancy-pants grilling-galore. Whether it’s searing, using a griddle or–and get this–Korean barbecuing, you can go to any Weber store and just hand out cash-galore for anything except a kitchen sink to fit in this thing. Sound familiar, dear worst-reader? Indeed. Weber has its Apple-like product marketing machine on full mimic. Although I do use the griddle that I purchased for the GBS system–a great way to avoid losing Seaford on grill grates, btw–I no longer–or rarely–use the GBS cast iron grates. I just place the griddle on top of steel grates now. Go figure, eh.

Grates and other add-ons.

I replaced the GBS grates with third-party steel grates after initial purchase. Reason? Steel grates just cook better than cast iron grates. And that’s not all. Since my better-half convinced me she’ll do special things (for worst-moi) if I smoke her meat, I even splurged and bought a third grate system that includes a smoker box. That’s right, dear worst-reader, I have three grate system for this grill. WTF, eh! And keep this in mind. The third grate system I bought includes a fancy-pants smoker box specifically made for this grill. That’s right, baby. I don’t use them cheap (but über expensive) little smoker boxes offered by Weber that you put on top of the flavour-bars. Fcuk that!

At the time of purchase, the smoker box I wanted was no longer available from Weber but I managed to get it on that silly auction website. Due to the location of the smoker box, though, you also have to get a special cut grate so that the three elements fit. Well, I guess, if you’re experienced enough at grilling, you can just skip the extra grate–if you can even get the smoker box. Since the smoker box I bought came with the grate, I’m good. Now I have three grates for this damn thing, don’t you know. Am I happy with it? Indeed I am. It’s worked like a charm so far, don’t you know. Most recently it worked great when making my first brisket. More on that in a sec.

As far as quality of grill goes, this Weber replaced one of those first purchase, save-a-buck compromise grills that ended up rusting completely within three years. Although there are a few minor blemishes on it, my Weber has had no issues with rust whatsoever. Heck, even those silly-named flavor bars lasted for about four years till they started to rust. They lasted, of course, because I took care of them and cleaned them a few times a year. I did make one mistake replacing them, though. I replaced the rusted flavour-bars with original enamelled flavour-bars from Weber. Next time when they need replacing I’m gonna just order third party stainless steel flavour-bars. What a stupid (marketing) name for flame defusers, eh. Oh well.

Maintenance and then some, baby.

As far as maintaining it goes, I give the grill a thorough cleaning at least twice a year. That is, I remove everything and scrub all the grates, flavour-bars, bottom defusers, and take special care to keep the burners clean. Although the burners, after about five years, are showing a bit more rust than I was expecting, they don’t seem to be corroding to the point of dysfunction. They produce more than enough heat, especially when I keep flavour-bars and the bottom defusers clean. Tip: want more heat from your grill? Keep it clean and free of old cooked, charred, charcoaled stuff. With every major clean, I’m able to get the grill well beyond three-hundred and fifty degrees celsius (ca. 700f) within fifteen minutes of lighting it up. Although I rarely need those high temperatures, it does come in handy when grilling pizza on a rather large pizza stone–also something I bought third-party so as to save a bit of cash instead of wasting so much on Weber’s (Apple?) marketing mayhem galore.

The rest of the grill is in perfect working condition after five or so years. The doors are still very solid. The enclosed-frame is also without any rust or corrosion. Even the wheels still work great if/when I have to move it. Speaking of moving it. I even lugged this damn thing to Bangalore, India, in 2016. Although we were supposed to stay there for a few years, it turns out we only got eight months out of the deal before we headed back to #Eurowasteland/Germania. I never once was able to use the grill in India. On the trip back, though, a few parts from the grill got lost in the packing and it turned out to be a pain in the arse to get those parts in Germany. My beloved #Americant to the rescue, baby. On a trip to the US, a month or two after returning from India, I was able to get those parts toot-sweet via a hardware store’s showroom. Cool, eh.

The cooking magic, sugar-tits.

I love this grill. I love it mostly because 1) controlling temperature is a dream and 2) at times it’s more convenient to use than our kitchen oven. Not to mention that preparing meat on this thing is as fun as petting and trimming the breast flesh of a bovine about to be grilled and smoked. Grilling veggies is also magic and, as previously mentioned, grilling homemade pizza is nothing short of dee-lish. Although I’ve cooked all kinds of meat on it in all kinds of ways, until recently, I had never made a brisket.

Keep in mind, dear worst-reader, German butchers, for whatever reason, don’t cut up a bovine like butchers in my beloved & missed #Americant. That said, if I understand it, I was only able to get the breast-part of the brisket cut. That is, the shoulder portion, which the #Americant butchers include, wasn’t available. Although my butcher told me that I could order it next time with advanced notice, the breast cut weighed 4.5kg, that was good enough for this first try. Remember: the whole point of a brisket is cooking a piece of meat that otherwise is un-eatable.

My biggest concern with making a brisket wasn’t the cut of meat. Instead it was maintaining a low temperature for the all-day smoking. Luckily, after recently cleaning her up, I was able to maintain low temperature and still get the smoker-box to work. Hence the reason I only wanted this type of smoker box. After thirteen (or so) hours I was able to get some serious flavour into the meat. I also managed to dry it out a bit. Obviously it didn’t matter because the brisket was gone and gone and gone once it was served at the baroque gathering/picnic. For a first try, I’m stacking this up as a success. The only issue I have to face now is that my wife got some smoked meat for the first time in a while and she’s hungry still. The problem is, grill-smoking–even with a gas grill–all day ain’t a very practical since I live in a townhouse and my grill is in an open atrium in the centre of that house. There are people on both sides of us and behind us. No one complained but I won’t be pushing my luck with smoking a lot while we’re living here.

Weber grills, although very expensive, are the bomb, baby.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo-Review: DietPi And RockPro64

 

Subtitle: Avoiding monolithic-monopoly personal computing on the cheap?

Follow-up is here.

Note on text: if you want to skip all my worst-writing, just scroll down to the The Pseudo Review.

As noted here, I’m not a NAS fan. The problem with not being a NAS fan is that one may still require some form of home data storage. But where to turn? Remember those days of ripping CDs, DVDs/Blurays, etc.? What to do with all that data? Even if you’re no longer into ripping stuff, there is a need to not lose all that has been ripped. Or?

A few years back I realised that my ripping days were over. I haven’t ripped a CD in years. Other than online (and free) internet-radio, I don’t consume music anymore either. If I watch a movie or a TV show, I do so by either Amazon Prime or I rent something with AppleTV. (That’s right, I don’t use Netflix and I also do not watch cable or satellite TV!) That means, the only requirement I have for home data storage is being able to back up my Macs and figuring out what to do with all my old data. For my Macs the solution is easy. I rely on multiple TimeMachine iterations. Btw, after getting rid of my Mac collection in late 2018, which consisted of a MacPro, 2x MacMini, a MacBook Air and a 12″ MacBook, I’m now down to 2x 12″ MacBooks, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Btw, as a writer, I highly recommend the 12″ MacBook–butterfly keyboard n’all. It is, in fact, my daily driver. Obviously if you’re into video production the 12″ MacBooks is a no-go. For everything else, as I took the chance to figure out for myself, Apple’s smallest, lightest, minuscule-ness and perhaps slowest PC… is a blast! And so, my wife uses the 2016 MacBook connected to a 24″ screen as her personal desktop device which replaced her 2010 MacMini. FYI, her main personal comuting driver is an iPad Pro. But I digress.

It was after fiddling around with my wife’s 2016 MacBook–which she bought on a whim after we returned from India in 2016–that something clicked with me. And be warned: when we entered the Apple store that day to get her a new Mac, it had never crossed my mind to buy the 12″ MacBook. I was trying to steer her to a low-end iMac. But you know how the women-folk are these days, eh worst-reader? You know, they be all emancipated and stuff. The only contribution I got to make about her new Mac purchase, in the end, was that she didn’t buy the pink MacBook1. Here my thoughts on going full Apple über-expensive (pink) netbook for 2019. Anywho.

Each MacBook has it’s own external HDD which is connected as required plus there is a TimeMachine HDD connected to an AirPort Extreme in the basement accessible by our home network. I can’t tell you what a relief it is having gotten rid of all those ageing Macs, but more importantly having gotten rid of the burden of having to maintain them. Obviously–or as usual–Steve Jobs was right when he initiated the post-PC era–with his comment–even though I don’t agree with it 100%–that tablets are cars and PCs are trucks. The thing is, I’ve never been sold on tablets replacing PCs. I’m also all-in on laptop makers trying to compete with desktop. More importantly, I’m not sold at all on touch screens. No. I need a keyboard. There is obviously a burden to be shouldered in the future of PCs but that’s mostly due to a monopolised and monolithic tech industry–that Apple will hopefully threaten if it ever gets around to having ARM as processors on its Macs. But, once again, I’m off subject.

The minimalist design, ports, weight, etc., of the MacBook has in part lead to my acquiescence and further delayed my having to consider going tablet. Although I can see the future is about touch-screen devices, the MacBook I’m using to worst-type this post, might just be my last Mac. Indeed. The likes of System76 laptops is looking pretty sweet to me right now–even though I just paid twice the cost for a laptop (a 2017 12″ MacBook in pink) compared to the likes of what System76 is offering. So the only question that remains is this: can I give up the luxury of Mac? That’s a whole other worst-post, eh. Anywho–I’m still off subject.

Not only have I gotten rid of all those trucks but I’ve also consolidated my personal computing data requirements. I’ve even given in to Apple’s ill-engineering to remove things like an ethernet port, let alone modern I/O ports. In other worst-words, for my personal computing requirements, I’ve since learned that the amount of hardware I require is actually quite negligible. For don’t you know, dear worst-reader, I am a worst-typist (worst-writer), and the amount of hardware space to store year and years and years of worst-writing, just ain’t that much. In fact, in a pinch, I can get my life’s digital work onto a decent sized USB thumb-drive. As for other digital stuff, aka music, photos, movies, TV, etc., that’s another story. And here’s part of that story.

I don’t consider media stuff to be a priority in my digital life. As much as I don’t like subscription-based digital streaming (I prefer the pay as you go/view stuff), streaming is definitely the future. Hence the rigamarole of whether or not to invest stupid money into an over-priced multiple HDD system (NAS) which just adds more complications (i.e. truck krapp) to one’s life.

The Pseudo Review.

So it’s been a few months now since I’ve batted an eye or puckered an ear about avoiding NAS truck-dom and/or monopoly-monolithic über-expensive personal computing krapp. It turns out that my skepticism/cynicism was/is warranted. As of fall 2018, I’ve resorted to other means of storing twenty years of music and movies and TV–and thereby separating personal data from media2. Obviously what I’m doing is not as convenient as a NAS but at least I’m NOT having to give more stupid-money away to monopoly-monolithic tech companies. Also. The whole fiddling and figuring-out process has been (kinda) fun. And so, here’s the solution I’m currently using in order to avoid monopoly-monoliths…

  • RockPro64 (4GB/MicroSD/Sata-card)
  • Pine64 NAS Case
  • 2x 3TB HDD
  • DietPi

Initially, and based on positive experience with Raspberry Pi, I fiddled around with OMV on the RockPro64, more on that here. Unfortunately OMV doesn’t work. I’m regularly checking here to see if/when it gets out of beta. That’s kind of a shame, really, on account I liked the way OMV worked on the Raspberry Pi. The only problem was/is, the RPi couldn’t stream to my home network using Plex. As a pure file server, though, OMV on the RPi worked flawlessly.

After a few initial difficulties with the RockPro64 and its fancy-pants NAS case3, I finally got it all together and working. As far as my choice of software, I’ve been happily surprised with DietPi. After a few weeks I not only got used to such a throw-back, if not archaic interface, I really started to dig DietPi. In fact, once you get used to it, DietPi isn’t as CLI/archaic as it may initially appear. It’s actually got a pretty neat and well thought-out interface, see pics above. Of course, if you like, you can just use the terminal and linux commands to do everything. I’m not a Linux command expert by and long stretch, so what DietPi has come up with has worked really well for me. The only issues I’ve had so far have been minor and require nothing more than a restart. So allow me to repeat: The thing to keep in mind is that I was looking for a way to avoid the bigshots and their overpriced krapp–and I found it.

As far as it being a server, you have to kind of piece together DietPi to get things to happen. Where OMV is a standalone server application that acts just like a NAS, DietPi is more like an operating system with various apps, some of which can be servers. I’m using Plex Media Server and Samba shares. I’ve also got a few other apps running, e.g. WordPress and Pi-hole. More on that in another worst-post. I have one RPi Plex client connected to my sound system and a flat screen TV. It’s where I watch all those old, ripped media files. I can also access it all via Plex apps on my Mac, an old iPad Air and and even my ageing iPhone 6s. So far the RockPro64 has been able to stream to multiple devices without issue. For audio I have two separate RPi’s running Volumio. I have a separate Samba share for audio files only. All in all, I’m able to stream movies, TV shows, and audio without issue to multiple devices. As far as backing up media from the RockPro64 and its internal HDDs, there’s a DietPi app to cover that, as well.

And let’s not forget the fun-factor in all this. The biggest thrill so far with being able to avoid sucking up to monolithic-monopolistic tech arsehole corporations is that OpenSource and SBCs (single board computer) have lead the way. The fact that I sold an old albeit still powerful 2010 MacPro (cheese grader Mac) with the idear that (but no proof it would work) I could replace it with an SBC, no longer seems absurd–as a lot of tech guys tried to tell me. At the least, personal computing doesn’t have to be as complicated and expensive as it has become simply because jerk-offs in the tech world have got nothing better to do than screw customers more and more. But what the hell do I know?

Rant on.

-T


  1. Indeed. I would be the one to buy it in pink. Laughs on me, uh? ↩︎
  2. For those interested: I utilise iCloud for photo backup, which is my only external backup source of photos. I have no other means to externally back up other media. I’m probably playing with fire but what the hell! ↩︎
  3. I had the following issues with the case: cheap SATA cables included with case are hard and stiff. In fact, I damaged PCIe adapter while trying to wire SATA cables internally. I used superglue to fix that damage. Once RockPro64 board and HDDs are installed, cables connected, etc., the only way to access board is to dismantle entire case. You also pretty much have to dismantle entire case to remove/change a HDD. Case designer(s) didn’t take into consideration access to MicroSD card. The only way to access the MicroSD card is with a pair of tweezers or very little fingers. Routing both SATA cables and power cables in case is extremely cumbersome. To make life easier and to prevent further damage, I purchased a set of thin, light, flexible SATA cables to replace the ones included with the case. ↩︎

Pseudo-Review- Birkenstock And The Happy Foot

Note on the pics. The Birkenstock shoe (left foot) is still in what I consider to be its break-in period. They’re only about ten days old. Note the suede sole footbed insert. The sandal (right foot) is broke-in and is probably four months old. The only issue I’m facing with the sandals is that I’ve run out of holes for tightening the straps as the leather has stretched a bit. The ladies at the Birkenstock store said it’s easy to add another hole or two. Good news, eh. Tip to break-in the sandals: after shower wear them with undried feet.

Been having foot trouble, don’t you know, dear worst-reader. Yeah, it’s been going on for years. The origin of this trouble has been mostly due to weight and a screwed-up left achilles. It might be also attributable to the side-ways goings and comings I experience after a bottle or three of wine. But that’s neither here nor there. My foot trouble has caused me to favour one foot over the other and, who knows, might even lead to that hip replacement a few years down the road. Oh yeah. I’m having hip trouble now, too. Nomatter.

According to those in the know, the (real) problem with my feet might be the so-called cheap-o factor. How could anyone have guessed that for the last ten or so years I’ve been flying to the US, not only to visit my ageing mother, but to purchase cheap sneakers at a Rehoboth, DE, outlet mall. If you’re not in the know, dear worst-reader, get this: those outlet malls in DE are not only cheap but they are also friggin’ tax free. Which can only mean, for worst-writer, I guess, cheapness has contributed to my feet trouble. On the other hand, the Nike Free shoes I’ve favoured for the past few years, you know, the ones with the extremely flexible souls (that collect so many little rocks in the cracks) have been the only shoes I can wear for any extended period of time. You know, when walking around Paris for three days and worst-stuff like that. In fact. I haven’t been able to wear real shoes (leather and/or dress shoes) for years. They’re just too painful. If I have to wear fancy-pants real shoes, say for a special event, I plan it so that I can get out of them ASAP. In fact, until recently, I only had one pair of fancy pants real shoes. Indeed. And so. A nice new pair of Nike Free 5.0s in black go well with a suit, don’t you know. On the other hand, even when not in Paris, I take lots of walks, especially with Beckett the killer pug, and I wear out those Nikes quickly. I can easily wear out a pair of Nikes in six months. That also means the soft and un-supporting worn out footbeds end up hurting my feet even more–if not actually doing more damage. But I’m off subject.

After complaining to my better-half again and again about my feet, she suggested two things. First, change shoe brand and/or change shoe sole. Second, maybe it was time I stopped cheaping-out on shoes. She then recommended we go with what she’s been alluding to for some time: let’s try Birkenstock. She added that she’s been reading-up on the issue and that we’ve probably reached the age where it is time for a bit more foot-love.

“Birkenstock? Really?” I questioned.
“Sure. Why not?”
“Not sure I’m ready for the ultimate in Germanin preppy foot wear,” I added.
“You’re more German than all of us,” she said. “Plus, they’re perfectly engineered shoes.”
“Perfectly over-engineered,” I added.

Within three days I was wearing new Birkenstock sandals around the house. As of the writing of this worst-post, I’ve been wearing those sandals everyday, all day, for the last three months only removing them when I nap, sleep or bathe. And although the break-in period with the soles was a bit trying, after about a week of both foot pain and lower leg pain–seriously, the footbed of the sandals effect the muscles in the leg below the knee– something was clicking with these shoes. Soon I was telling my wife that my feet haven’t felt this good in years–especially considering that the last three places we’ve lived all had hardwood floors–where I’ve been unable to walk barefoot but also had never found a pair of comfortable house shoes as the wife would never agree to thick shag-carpet.

By-the-buy, I did have a pair of Crocs for a few years but I hated them from the get-go. More on that here. In fact, I’m now convinced that the reason I wore Crocs was (1) I was too lazy to get informed about my aching feet and (2) they seemed like an alternative to wearing stuff that made me look… old (but on that I could be wrong).

Long pseudo-review short, although I do remember trying Birkenstock shoes back in the late 1980s, where they just didn’t work for my feet, it seems that now there is nothing else I’d rather wear. And so. On the success of the house shoes, i.e. sandals, I’ve since really splurged and bought a pair of Birkenstock (real) shoes. The break-in period for these seems to be a bit longer than the sandals but I can say that so-far they’ve not disappointed. The shoes, by-the-buy, have the traditional footbed as an insert. I was skeptical at first if going with an insert was the right thing to do but after the first week of break-in I’m now good with it.

Just like the sandals, the footbed, it’s shape and it’s composition, is the secret to Birkenstock. If you recall, I have a protruding left achilles. That means that for most of my adult life, I’ve never been able to wear a shoe size that matches my actual foot size. The work-around for worst-moi has always been to wear shoes, depending on the brand, that are at least one size too big. I simply need the extra space for my achilles at the heel of my left foot. Either that or I suffer severe blistering. Although I have to buy the same over-size with Birkenstocks, the fact that the footbed eventually fits to my foot, is a godsend. No longer do I have to deal with my feet moving around in shoes because they are a size or size-and-a-half too big. The cork and synthetic composite structure of the footbed eventually fits (moulds?) to my foot. It’s brilliant. Why the hell didn’t I think of this fifteen or so years ago. Oh yeah. Cause I’m a cheap-o!

While I’m worst-writing about expensive $hit, the negative here is that due to all the walking I do, I don’t think the shoes are gonna last very long. As you can see in the pics above, there’s not much rubber where shoe meets ground. On the other hand, if/when I do wear out the soles, in a half year or so, the shoes are probably structurally worn out anywho. Now I’m wondering if I’ll be able to replace the sole. Also. As you’ll note from their webpage or any retailer that sells them, this level of needed comfort for those of us with foot troubles galore, means that these shoes ain’t cheap. Since my better-half approved of the purchase, all is good. The only question is, I’m now so sold on Birkenstock as my consume-to-survive go-to foot wear, there are at least two other pairs I’d also like to own. I’m thinking I’ll go with another pair of shoes without the inserts. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Time to save up the doe, baby. In a few months fancy-pants-shoes version 3.0.

Rant (and walk comfortably) on.

-T

How Much You Don’t Know Can Hurt You (Deep Inside) Forever

Screen Shot 2018-12-23 at 13.51.47.png
This is a screenshot of worst-writer’s fav film poster for the movie.

Disclaimer: This is not a pseudo-review of the movie The Butler and there is only one slight spoiler.

My son asked me the other week if I had seen the movie The Butler. I told him I had not. When I asked if he’d seen it, to my surprise he said he had and then proceeded to tell me that maybe I should see it. The reason I was surprised was because he’s been on a comic and action movie kick for a while now. I then recalled when it was released and how it made my list of… movies I probably won’t see. Reason? That same year 12 Years A Slave was also released. These two movies, although significant in their productions, just didn’t interest me. As a half-white, born & raised in suburban HELL #Americant who managed to jump ship in the nick-of-time, I’ve been worried ever since the election of Barry-O, how the greed $hitshow is gonna deal with the next historical wave of racism run amok that built the greatest land of free to be stupid the universe has ever seen. Wait. Maybe that’s too harsh. Let me try again.

My biggest concern after Barry-O won the Democratic primary, edging out Hillary in 2008, was that my beloved & missed #Americant wasn’t ready for this. Oh how right I was! In fact, it still isn’t ready for Barry-O. Or have you missed what he left behind? And although I love the guy, he has been a huuuuuuge disappointment when it comes to tackling the single issue that determines all the hate that is #Americant: the greed $hitshow. I mean, let’s face it. The reason for slavery, racism and all-things-greedy–and of course the advent of #Trump–ain’t just animosity and skin colour and $hitty piss-hair. I mean, come on. How much have things really changed since #Americant must, for every single step forward, take five or so steps backward? With that in worst-mind, movies dealing with race and slavery and and and and… don’t interest me if they don’t also deal with the greed $hitshow.

Am I glad I finally got around to watching The Butler? Sure, why not. Great acting mixed with mediocre directing and loose-with-truth writing can be fun (see link below for more about the fiction of this movie). I have to admit though that from the beginning to the end the film shocked me and I had to stand up to watch most of it with both hands either covering my shameful face or holding my jaw shut. But the scene that really got me was the one where Cecil Gains is confronting Nixon for the first time and Nixon uses the word entrepreneur in the context of what he should do (politically) about the black problem. Whaaaaaa?

Entrepreneur is one of those pop-words that I associate with having been stolen from original pseudo-French so that #Americants in the 1990s can find consolation with their compulsive behaviourism, i.e. nobody works anymore they only behave. So it was kind of a shock that writers of The Butler thought they could link a cultural byproduct of the fail-upward 1990s with Nixon’s $hitbag 1960s. But that’s all neither here nor there–as I still and will forever hate the word Entrepreneur.

Oh well. Here’s to pop culture continuing the ruin of everything so that nothing need be faced. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Rant on.

-T

Links that motivated this post:

Pseudo-Review #7- Charger GX At 6,000km, Winter Is Coming

Psuedo-Subtitle: The good, the bad, and not much to report.

Here is a tag-link to all my e-bike posts.

Let us begin, dear worst-rider, with the truth. The truth is, as of the writing of this worst-post, I’m surpassing 6500km in the next day or three. With that in mind, there is no need to answer any inquiries regarding the stature of my trusted Germania e-vehicle. It is and has been pretty much in the same shape since about 4000km. Or was that 2500km? Nomatter. This transport device has been holding up very well. Then again… it’s not quite two years old. Anywho.

The Good

Other than some standard tear & wear, i.e. brake pads, tyres (“tires” for my #Americant brethren) and a part removal–plus a recommendation for a few other part replacements (more on that below)–this e-bike extraordinaire has held-up better than all three of my x-wives. (Or is it 4?) And I assure you, fellow e-traveler, them x-wives were never as enjoyably ridden as this vehicle. Yes. Oh wait. (It was 3!) But on that note, I do… die-gress.

As you may or may not notice in the pics, I’ve finally gotten around to removing that silly rack from the front. Don’t get me wrong, dear worst-rider. It was a gallant effort on the part of those German engineer-types that put this and any Riese & Müller together. But in the end, unless you used it just like that dude in the video from the R&M website last year… You know, the long haired, bearded guy that peddled around a dessert with full panniers and a rolled up blanket or camping matt attached beautifully to the front rack? Yeah, that guy. Anywho. Unless you used the rack in the same manner, i.e. storing something on it that is soft and light, it was a useless rack. I did, of course, try to make it useful. I tried lugging around a case of wine once. You know, six bottles of Chianti along with a can of fava beans. Although the effort worked, i.e. I got the wine home unbroken, it was a terrible riding experience. I also tried lugging around a spare 500W battery strapped to the rack. Yeah… No. For you see, fellow worst-rider, the rack is truly meant, as indicated in the minimalist manual issued with the vehicle, to carry no more than 3kg. If I were to give R&M any advice, I’d tell them to stick with the 3kg weight allotment for the front rack but add that whatever is strapped to it, should be soft and cuddly. Anything above 3kg that is also hard & heavy means not only that your steering will be obnoxiously uncomfortable, but your bike balance, your tip-weight when using the kick-stand, etc., is waaaaaay off. In fact, while breaking my distance record last spring by riding 90+ km and carrying a spare battery strapped (with protection and cushioning) to the front rack, I decided then and there, the rack was a goner. By-the-buy, I have noticed that R&M has completely changed the front rack design of their new Chargers. The rack is attached to the frame of the bike and not the the steering/head tube. Well learned, grasshopper!

All in all, at this point, pushing two years old, replacing a car, I really can’t complain about this bike and there’s not much new to report. Even without the front rack, it’s still quite a useful carrier vehicle. As you can see in the pics, for the onslaught of Euro-winter, I even use the vehicle to carry ca. 15kg of firewood. Also, when it’s dirty and I clean it, it feels like new again. As long as I keep the chain and derailleur clean, I never have the feeling the drive train is even close to needing replacement (more on that in a sec). I do perhaps have one regret. When I replaced my rear tyre (tire) for the second time, I actually went ahead and ordered another tyre knowing that the rear only lasts about 2500km. I’ve since concluded that I want to replace the knobby tyres with something more urban, perhaps Schwalbe super-moto-x tyres. I’ll decided that soon enough. But if I do replace them, that means I bought an extra tire for naught. Oh well.

The Bad

When I had the 5000km inspection done a few months back, where I also had the rack removed, the shop told me that although not needed immediately, probably by the next inspection, it’ll be time to replace the chain and sprockets. At first I let the remark pass. Then I got to thinking. From the beginning I vaguely remember being told/sold the idear that this quality of chain and derailleur would last around 10000km. Why then is the dealer already talking of chain renewal?

Soon after the inspection, I gave my Charger a thorough cleaning, especially the chain. With a second and more thorough look, for the life of me, I don’t see why I can’t squeeze another 3000-4000km out of this chain set. Am I being naive? Of course, I might just invest in one of those chain measuring tools on account I have the feeling the bike shop might be taking advantage of me and my generosity for actually paying/affording all these inspections. Heck, the only reason I give the bike up for these dealer inspections is to protect the value of it on account I might want to trade it in after three years. Here in Germany proof of inspections can be an advantage. On the other hand, 100 ,-€ per inspection, plus whatever parts are needed, is adding considerable cost to this vehicle. Which raises another question: should I have taken the Rohloff transmission? The Rohloff is supposed to cost less than a chain/derailleur in the long run, is it not? But when I think/remember test driving a Rohloff I still vividly remember all those gears churning at the behest of every pedal movement. Yeah, churning gears are a big turn-off.

Not Much To Report

Yeah, I’m still diggin’ this e-bike. In fact, I haven’t touched my Giant TCX in almost all year. Then again, once I started to get into e-biking, I kinda knew that analog biking’s days were numbered. Which begs another worst-rider question: what to do, what to do, what to do… when the weather turns as it’s doing as I worst-write this? Winter is indeed coming. And if I learned one thing from last winter… The region of Germany I live in (NRW) has had great weather this summer and fall. I’ve been doing a lot of biking. But my temperature limit for biking is around 7° celsius. Anything below that makes me nervous for various reasons.

  1. Frozen fall foliage on the streets lets tyres slip away no matter how sharp your knobbies and then there’s German curbs and other road knots hiding underneath all that foliage and when you can’t see them and your front tyre gets caught while trying to ride around mothers and strollers… WHAM! You’re on arse toot-sweet.
  2. I learned last winter that gear shifting with thick gloves is a pain in the arse and urban riding requires constant gear shifting and when it’s cold and your worried about freezing your arse off you’re not thinking about gear shifting which means at every traffic light your in the wrong friggin gear… (How’s my bitchin & moanin solar?)
  3. Riding with thick clothes is a pain in the arse and even though I know, if managed correctly, you can ride an e-bike without breaking a sweat… but still, after too much wine the night before, the sweat comes out all the same and then those thick clothes turn out never to be thick enough and and and…
  4. Hours of cold riding has no comfort zone cause I’m such a wuss and when e-biking and sweating out too much drink from the night before… Oh wait. I’m being repetitive.
  5. And let’s not forget how a cold and hard that leather saddle from heaven is…
  6. But enough bitchin’ & moanin.

This bike is just too good to be true. (Knock on wood.)

Worst-ride on, baby.

Rant on, too.

-T

Apple v Pi Or How I Slowly Got My Computing Future On

I tried to become a watch-nut once. Not a real watch-nut, mind you. Of course not. A real watch-nut spends lots of money on watches. Heck, I don’t even like money. Anywho. A watch-nut knows what a complication is. In fact, that’s the only thing that made watches interesting to me. The simpler the complications, the better the watch. That’s why for years I wore a cheap, mechanical watch that within a twenty-four hour period lost at least two minutes of time. But it was a cool watch. Every morning I had to get up and wind it. Which brings me to the worst-subject of the day. As in super expensive and it works or something quite a bit cheaper and maybe, well, it loses two minutes of time a day. You in, dear worst-reader?

As you can see in the confused pics above, I consumed Apple’s #WWDC2018 the other day. Already dislocated from expectations, I was, as usual, disappointed in the show. Long worst-writer, pseudo-technologist, story short: #Apple sucks. The only consolation, as an Apple user, is that Apple will remain the best of the worst for the foreseeable future. That said, I’m not ready to fully go elsewhere for my personal computing needs. Or maybe I am. I’m especially not ready to go iOS. That’s for sure. And that’s what I got out of this year’s WWDC. In other words, if you’re an old-school Mac user like me, it’s probably time to move on or at least get ready to move over rover. That means, iOS is definitely gonna take over fairly soon. And even though the guy with the funny hair and plastic look (pic above of the iPad) claimed that there will be no merge of iOS and MacOS, I don’t believe him. Well, I kinda believe him. I mean, look at him. Compare him to the slimy, filthy ashtray that I refuse to clean behind him. The duschbags running Apple these days are definitely earning their weight in bull$hit. And that’s coming from a guy who has nothing but Apple products in his digital life. Aghast!

In order to prepare myself for the future I’ve been experimenting with what I consider the only true innovation in personal computing hardware in the past twenty years. And when I say personal computing I mean old school stuff as in a keyboard, a monitor and where necessary a mouse. And it doesn’t stop there. I’m also old school because I believe that when I buy a computer, what I do with it after purchase is all up to me. With that in mind, the thing I hate most about iOS and the direction computers are going is the touch screen interface and the fact that that it has exponentially increased the distance between human and the computer and device. Wow. I bet that’s worth a worst-thought or three, eh? Anywho.

Now don’t get me wrong, dear worst-reader. I’m not afraid of change. It’s just that I really do hate tablets. Nomatter how bright, clear and shinny they make those screens, for me there is something awfully wrong with my finger tips hitting a piece of hardened glass in order to interact with the/my digital world. Add to that the closed eco-system these new devices have ushered in to personal computing… at the behest of greed mongering corporations…

The thing to remember to keep in mind while reading this worst-post, dear worst-reader, is that nomatter what Apple does, worst-writer ain’t going to move to tablet computing anytime soon. In fact, so far, it looks like they’re gonna have to pry my dreams of old-school personal computing way of life out of my cold, dead, nightmare hands.

And so…

IMHO the most innovative personal computing product in years is the Raspberry Pi. Since its introduction as a code learning device for young people it has become a viable and versatile computer that has no rivals other than other single board computers, although it’s not quite ready to replace desktop computers. (But it is almost there.) And get this! It costs just under less than 40,-€.  Depending upon use and purpose, total cost of this device is around 100,-€, and that includes audio-boards, power supply and micro-sd cards. Considering what I’ve paid over the years for inevitably obsolete Apple products, that’s pretty impressive. FYI, I currently have three Raspberry Pi’s in full-time use in my house. And there’s this thought: I’m using R-Pis more than any of my Apple digital devices combined, except, maybe, my MacBook. In other worst-words, I’ve replaced what could have been Apple purchases–if Apple weren’t run by duschbags!–with some serious household cost-cutting purchases.

Enough worst-writer anger, though, eh.

One Pi is a Plex media client that has replaced one of my AppleTVs. It’s only a matter of time before another Pi replaces the other AppleTV. My second Pi is an audio streaming device using Volumio and a Hifiberry audio-board. It has 1) replaced iTunes for streaming music in our living room and kitchen and 2) will prevent us from having to buy any of those stupid little speaker thingies everybody and joe is pushing onto the music listening market. Sorry. Let me just put this out there:

Apple HomePod + iTunes + Apple Music + blah blah blah = fcuk you Apple.

That’s right. Finally. I can play my FLAC formatted music collection in its purest form–and with real air-moving speakers. Amen, brother.

The third Pi is the latest device available, the 3B+, and because it has increased ethernet capacity–although still via a bottlenecking USB 2.0 bus–I’ve been testing it as a NAS (network attached storage). Other than a few twerks and quirks here and there, these Pi’s work great and are slowly but surely proving themselves as alternatives to my ageing Apple home infrastructure and, more importantly, my unwillingness to accept Apple’s monopolisation of everything.

On that note, a few words about NAS on the cheap.

As you can see in the large pic above, I’m using a 2010 MacPro as a headless server. In fact, I’ve been using it for almost ten years. It’s where all of my household data is stored and backed-up. Of course, I know it’s time is limited, especially considering what Apple is doing with MacOS. It’s currently running El Capitan and I’m not even gonna bother with Sierra or High Sierra for it or any other OS. What I’d really like to do with it is stop wasting it as a over-energy-consumptive server and re-install Snow Leopard on it and just use it as a awesome desktop computer. Any by-the-buy, the newest MacOS just released, Mojave, won’t run on it at all. Indeed. More obsoletism. And for those interested, I don’t favour going the commercial NAS route i.e. Synology & Co. on account they are just an added complication in something that should be simple, where do I go in the future with my home digital needs they all seem like over priced and over complicated un-neccessities.

The fact that I have to even ask such a question is proof enough that there’s something seriously wrong with the world–or at least Apple’s and its, what I consider, corporate dysfunction. And perhaps this relates to my silly little watch analogy at the beginning of this post because when I heard that the latest Raspberry Pi had increased ethernet speed, albeit not quite gigabyte, I thought it finally time to take the plunge. Indeed. NAS here I cometh–even if you’re off two minutes each day!

Conclusion after about a month of Raspberry Pi NAS testing?

It works but…

Using OpenMediaVault, a 32GB micro-sd card, and a dedicated 5v-3amp micro-USB power supply, and, of course, numerous available HDDs I’ve got lying around–including really, really old USB 2.0 cases–my new cheap NAS is a go-go works great so far. Currently occupying two USB (out of 4) ports I have an old 750GB HDD in a single case that is dedicated to audio. Another dual HDD case that has hardware enabled RAID-0 case and 2x3TB drives in it, gives me a total of 6TB as an experimental backup server. I’m using testing the big drive for shares where I’ll be copying most of what’s on the MacPro to it as an alternative to the MacPro. Btw, the MacPro is a great server but it is obviously wasted in this role. Also, I’m not able to connect any of the Raspberry Pi’s to it unless via a Plex server. Something about Linux file systems and Mac files system not getting along, don’t you know. Anywho.

Hiccups so far mostly occur when I stream music and perform large data transfers. The Pi just doesn’t have enough ethernet/USB to make it all happen. For example. Copying my movie collection, which is about 1.5TB of data, from my MacPro to the big NAS share, the Pi then cannot deliver audio files at the same time. This screws up Volumio quite a bit and has required more than a few restarts and a few frustrating evenings where I was attempting to enjoy music. I’m assuming that these hiccups will decrease once I get all my music, movie and photos copied to the NAS, which is about 4TB total and will take a few days at current i/o bus speeds. And to think I’ve still got two more USB ports on the Pi for more drives… Cool.

Update two days later: All big files have been copied and I’ve had no hiccups with Volumio anymore. Über cool!

In worst-conclusion: So far I’m pleased with the time and effort required to get these Pi’s doing what I want working. And that’s the ticket, along with the price, if anyone wants to free themselves from monopolisation and corporate dysfunction galore. Of course there is a learning curve here. And even though there are forums out there and what feels like a large user base, the Raspberry Pi is not at all like any of the devices that I’m replacing. Obviously AppleTVs worked from the point-of-purchase until Apple makes them obsolete. So I’ve had to do a bit of research, reading and fiddling to get these Raspberry Pi’s to work. Then again, listening to Beethoven through real speakers in FLAC at 24bit streamed from a tiny server in my basement to a device that is hidden, tucked behind books on book shelf in my living room… Fcuk yeah! There is some wow going on in my audio listening pleasure zone, baby. And so. Good ridden monopoly Apple. Hope you choke on your duschbaggery and greed.

Rant on.

-T

PS As far as the two other pictures included in this post, you’re guess is a good as mine. The one with the runners is kinda cool and reminds somehow of Apple’s dysfunction. Yeah, that kid running along the group looks like he’s trying to keep up with his daddy or stop his daddy from running away from his mommy, which is most likely, considering #eurowasteland greed mongering, inevitable. The picture of the smoke stack is Apple, too. Yeah, it’s gotten that big and fat and in the way of seeing a horizon.

When Your Tickle Goes Bling Bling And Your Ears Say Ahhh

It took me a while. And it also took one of my micro-SD cards along with various installs, network wiring configs, a new fancy case and fun, fun, pure listening/audio fun. But before any of that, first things first. I’m finally NAS ready and my R-PI with Hifiberry Amp2 is the bomb! The initial install of OpenMediaVault, which I’m using as my NAS/Share source for my audio library, didn’t actually go all that well. Continuing my tech confusion streak, I made the mistake of tossing the first OMV install on account I found it too complicated. At the least, I wasn’t ready for the OMV interface. So while I proceeded to learn from OMVs website, you know, to get a bit informed about their software and how it works, I re-flashed the SD card back to RasPlex and suddenly the card was broke. At least I think it was broke. It was a 16GB card and after re-flashing it a utility tool informed me it had only 500MB of space. I tried everything. Erase. Partition. Erase and re-format in x-Fat and then in MS-DOS (or what ever’s available via Mac Disk Utility) and nothing happened. There was always only 500MB of space on what was supposed to be a 16GB card. Whaaa? Nomatter. I don’t have time for this. Plus I spent a few hours studying-up on the OMV site and after about two weeks (of casual reading of their doc pages), I was finally ready to give it another go. But then, out of the blue, I decided to support local retailers (as opposed to ordering from you-know-who online retailer from hell!) and jumped on my bike and road off to a local electronic store to buy a new micro-SD card. And get this, dear worst-reader. Would you believe that one of Germania’s largest tech stores doesn’t even carry a micro-SD card smaller than 32GB? Are you serious, I asked one of the store clerks. He informed me that I might have a problem getting such a small card anywhere. Ok. Fine. So I broke down and paid 16,-€ for a 32GB card–4x more capacity than I need for a OMV instal. I biked home, fought with the stupid mass produced packaging to free the card, slid it in the side of my 2015 MacBook Air (i7) and flash, flash, flash. I then proceeded to install the card in the R-PI 3B board. I hooked up ethernet cable and then the 5V 3amp dedicated micro USB power cable. According to OMV one is supposed to be patient as the software goes through the initial install. The readme.txt says I should give it at least forty minutes depending on speed of SD card and internet connection. So I set a timer and went off to be productive elsewhere. After about 36 minutes exactly, I woke up my MacBook Air, searched my network for a new IP address titled “raspberrypi” and… Boom! Long story short. I then hooked up an external 700GB Samsung HDD (which has got to be ten years old; which is also housed in a Icy-Box ext powered case) that has a copy of all my audio files (FLAC and MP3). I set up the network share with Samba and then opened Volumio. Again. Boom! Volumio immediately recognised the share and began indexing my music library. Oddly, Volumio seems to perform better with my music library using a network share. Previously I had the Icy-Box USB drive connected directly to the R-PI’s USB. Although Volumio worked fine with it, there were always hick-ups and duds. My guess is that Volumio wasn’t able to index the directly connected HDD as well as it can when connected by a network share. But that’s just a guess. The thing to remember is that when you have a house full of R-Pi’s, put them to good use. Btw, I’m really digging the R-PI3B+ as my new NAS device. Will be testing it by adding another HDD soon to see how it works as a backup system. And for those interested in how the Hifiberry Amp2 sounds? I’m tickled to-death with it. Together with the R-PI3B it is a fantastic low-cost audio device that delivers incredible audio, especially on high-sounding low-cost speakers like a pair of Pioneer BS22. And btw, even though I have rough beginning with some of this tech-krapp, the end result I’m experiencing is what tech should be all about.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo-Review: Pennies From Heaven Where Cents Make Great Audio

First. The newest Raspberry Pi was kinda hard to get till I happened across it. I’m worst-guessing this is due to limited supply, heavy demand. Some online shops were taking orders of the Pi but then not indicating delivery dates. Second. I bow humbly to #Hifiberry and their new Amp2 and the fact that I just happened to see they had new Pi’s available when I was gawking at maybe getting another of their audio boards–on account I’ve been so tickled with their DAC+ Pro board. Btw, I wasn’t interested in the RPI3B+ to even go with the new Amp2. I was ordering the Amp2 to put on my RPi3–which would give me two potential audio sources in my house. The RPi3B+ was a just because purchase. Here’s a rundown of my current Pi setup:

  • RPi2B – with Hifiberry Dac+ Pro (more on that here); currently being used as a Plex Client (RasPlex)
  • RPi3B – this one I’m now using with the Hifiberry Amp2 (more on that below)
  • RPi3B+ – just because–and to test if the newest Pi is finally a viable desktop alternative (it’s not quite there yet); also testing for NAS use (so far so good but I’m not ready to replace my old MacPro with it yet)

Now on to a pseudo-review of Hifiberry’s Amp2.

Wow! I was blown away with the first sound that came out of the Amp2. Using Volumio, I’ve been testing this little audio miracle on three different speakers (see pic above). The great news is, it doesn’t matter what speaker I was using. The Amp2 drives them all till a smile rolls off my geezer and curls back ’round into my ears. Of the three speakers I own, my favourites are the Pioneer BS-22–which I lugged across the Atlantic (on account I couldn’t buy them in Germany) in early March. And although my B&W 305s are currently being stored in my basement, I hooked them up just see if the Amp2 could power my ageing low-end towers. It powered them with gusto! Of course, the smallest speakers I own are the Audioengine P4s–which were, I thought at the time, the best deal I had ever made on speakers–but then I got the BS-22s. Nomatter. I’m a cheap-o pseudo-audiophile and I don’t mind admitting to it–especially considering the cost of some of those fancy speakers from Apple, Sonos, etc., which also limit your listening experience through stupid transcoding. So let’s move on.

My only gripe with the Amp2 right now is software, specifically Volumio. I run a Mac home network and Volumio cannot access Mac shares. Nor can it access Mac SMB shares. I’ve been reading forums, posting questions to support sites, reading more krapp, and to save my life I cannot get Volumio to access my 2010 headless MacPro which is a iTunes server, a Plex Media Server and, of course, a file server for a small household of multiple Macs and iOS devices. I’ve given up on networking with Volumio since I have a few old spinning 3.5″ HDDs lying around. So I bought a UBS external powered case and let the RPi/Amp2 access music files that way. Works great.

The Amp2 is nothing short of a little miracle audio board. It’s rated at 60w of power and I can say that it easily produces sound as good as my TEAC A-H01 amp. In fact, it’s better than my TEAC in that, when used with Volumio, I no longer have to get up to change the volume. Another gripe I have with the Amp2 is that when controlling it with Rasplex or Volumio, neither has an output/driver setting specifically for it. According to the Hifiberry website, you’re supposed to choose the Hifberry DAC+ driver because “the Amp2 is basically a DAC+ with an integrated power stage.” After fiddling with the DAC+Pro (on my RPi2) for a while, I realised that the biggest issue with this type of audio device is definitely the power source. I’ve since purchased two 5v 3amp micro USB power source/cables for my other Pis. Fortunately Hifiberry sells a small power brick separately so I went ahead and bought that for this setup. So far, the brick is the best way to power the RPi and Hifiberry. In fact, considering the flimsy-ness of the micro-USB in the RPi, I’m really digging the Amp2’s way of powering things.

After a few weeks of testing, the Amp2 works so well that I’ve actually replaced my living-room Rasplex client with it. My living-room TV now only serves as a monitor for my ageing AppleTV3, which we rarely use. In fact, the only time we use our TV is as a screen/monitor for Apple Photos slideshows via the AppleTV3. We’re no longer TV gawkers so we don’t miss NOT having a TV as part of music play. And to be honest, I’m really digging controlling all our audio needs with my iPhone. Besides, when my better-half watches her German TV stuff she does on her iPad. And so… why the hell am I worst-writing about how we watch/use a TV? Nomatter. I listen to music when cooking, when worst-blogging, and especially when I’m cuddling with Beckett the killer pug on the couch. If you can get through the minor hassle of the Amp2 not having a decent case (yet) or having to fix speaker wires to it, this is one heck of a purest audio device that can be easily hid in a shrank, book shelf, or even under a couch, etc. All you need to control it is a home network, a smartphone and a bunch audio files.

Brilliant cheap audio!

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo-Review: The Film Collossal Or That Thing In My Substance Abuse That Is Serious Childhood Drama

Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 10.02.58

Warning: spoiler alert! This movie is totally worst-explained.

Things I wish I could have written? Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Thornton Wilder’s The Ides of March. The movie Collossal. Etc., etc. And by-the-buy, I watched Colossal last night via some stupid streaming service and I was pleasantly surprised. On that note, streaming itself isn’t stupid but the greedy nature of how all these streaming services work is stupid. Indeed. Consume to survive: everything is stupid. But I digress.

Although Collossal has a somewhat slow and peculiar start, the first thing I said after the opening scene of a young Korean girl initialising the audience to the Collossal monster, is this: this is movie about woman scorned! Oh how wrong/right I would eventually be. Once the odd, platonic relationship of the two main characters gets going, I even briskly forgot about all my worst-predictions. In fact, this movie is as pleasantly different as The Shape of Water. And to think both these great movies are made by Spaniards. Cool.

The movie:

In short, Gloria is a young drunk down on her luck living in NYC. After her boyfriend throws her out, she decides to return to her childhood home where she immediately encounters Oscar, supposedly a childhood friend. One of the best parts of writing in this movie is how these two characters are in a relationship but that relationship has nothing to do with romance. What a relief that is, I thought to myself. A film about a man and a woman and it has nothing to do with how/if/when they get it on. Fresh worthwhile movie story telling trick, indeed.

Enter the monster(s) as a literal blast from the past starts to wake up these two from a serious drunken stupor. The whole story evolves around a flashback of what these two people were caught up in as school children. Although Gloria seems to have overcome the majority of that trauma, once she re-enters that old life as a drunk, the past appears out of thin air in the form of Collossal, a Godzilla-like monster. Why the fcuk this monster is destroying a city half a world away as these two #Americant dyfunctionals can’t get their $hit together, is the brief and tantalising mystery the story rides on. It eventually becomes obvious that the monster is some kind a manifestation of Gloria. And just when you figure that out–or are actually shown that she is the monster–it turns out Oscar has one, too. And that’s the gist of what’s really going on between these two. Oscar simply can’t stand being one-upped by Gloria.

The revealing flashback of the movie comes fairly late. Unlike a lot of flashbacks, though, this one doesn’t just reveal the twist of the movie. While walking home from elementary school Gloria and Oscar are carrying school projects. They had to build a model of a city they would like to visit in life. Gloria picked the city of Seoul, South Korea. I didn’t pick up on the city Oscar built–but it’s probably the hometown he’s still stuck in. During their walk home it’s obvious that Gloria won the contest from her class of best built model. When a storm suddenly emerges a gust of win whips Gloria’s Seoul away (pun intended). Oscar jumps a fence to fetch it for her. Thinking that she doesn’t see what’s he doing, Gloria watches Oscar destroy her prized model Seoul replication (more pun?) by stomping on it–like a monster. But then something really weird happens. This is where the twist takes another twist. They are struck by lightening in the storm. Through out the movie Gloria is constantly itching a part of the top of her head where she was struck.

Although it’s not very clear in the writing, worst-writer’s guess is the lightening strike probably ingrained this event into their psyche. Because of it, Oscar grew up hating himself (which she actually claims of him when they have a final confrontation) for the cruelty that has been part of him since that stormy day. Gloria is just a hurt child drowning her sorrows in drink. Gloria then realises to end their conflict all she has to do is continue going forward in life–like she did by leaving this small town and going to NYC. She also realises that she has to stop being a drunk–which brought her back to this mess in the first place. Oh. And to finally deal with Oscar, she also has to get rid of his monster. In order to do that, she comes-of-age, stops drinking and gets on a plane and travels to Seoul. Although Oscar has threatened her that this time she won’t leave him and his cruelty, when she does leave he continues to ravage (her) Seoul. In the actual city of Seoul, South Korea, Gloria finally confront Oscar by proving that at least she can leave that krappy town, stop drinking, move on. She one-ups Oscar one last time. End.

All in all, a great film. It’s a smart film, too. What a relief a movie like this is in these days of blockbuster boredom and moronic comic book characters galore. Although at times it has some odd, indecisive scenes, especially in the beginning and while the relationships are being developed among Oscars friends in her hometown, Hathaway and her character are brilliant. There is a bit of heavy-handed misogyny in the form of serious boy on girl ass-whipping during the last fight scene between the two, but it fit their relationship and it didn’t go over-board–which I’m sure would have been the case if Harvey Weinstein had produced this film. On the other hand, I’m not sure this movie could be part of the #metoo movement. Ok. Maybe that’s not applicable at all. Nomatter. In the end this is a movie about a woman, the consequence of her actions and the sometimes brutal nature of human behaviour–especially male behaviour. The way she deals with it all sometimes took my breath away. At the least I’m not a Hathaway skeptic like I used to be. She can act her way around my screen any day–as long as she does a smart movie like this. Well done!

Rant on.

-T

Julius Caesar Killed With (Bad) Ideas Not Daggers–Just Like My Beloved #Americant

ides of march and coffee

Coincidence? I finally (it’s been on my to-do list for a while) started re-reading Thornton Wilder’s Ides of March… in March? Actually I started re-reading it the last few days of March and casually finished it at the end of April. Reason? I had put it off long enough–and it was time. For I knew, dear worst-reader, after #Trump was elected there would be new & improved worst-criticisms galore–don’t you know–relating to certain aspects of human history. And so. Toilet literature moments of worst-writer have been revealed. Which means I finally got around to finishing the book by the end of April. Indeed. The little things in life that motivate, resuscitate, intrigue are worth taking with a grain of salt-sugar as life goes flush-flush, swirling, heralding down that sewer–that sewer meant for me.

The worst-thing about the Ides of March is this: I’ve always been fascinated with Julius Caesar and I’m not sure why. Same goes for Napoleon–and the reason for that is even more confusing. Even though I’m not much of a history buff–on account of the way History has been mis-taught–a few parts of it do kinda stick out (in my worst-mind) and fascinate (me). With that in mind, I could give a hoot about Julius Caesar–the man. What does interest me, though, is to read about why so much of the limited, one sided, agenda driven history we’ve been taught, so often and so easily, comes back to haunt us toot-suite (idiom error) and it all seems to coincide easily with what’s already happened.

Here’s the short answer/reason worst-writer thinks Julius Caesar is (and should be) part of the history that is happening right now. After President Stupid was elected in my beloved (and missed) #Americant in 2016, I recall reading about a New York play production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. In that play Caesar was dressed up to look like–hair, suit, tie n’all–Donald Trump, aka President Stupid. (Interwebnet search: “julius caesar as donald trump” and look at the images.) Even though I consider President Stupid an abomination and deserving of the treatment he receives from Lefties and humans with half a brain, I immediately wondered why all the coverage from that particular NY play was only about the bloody death of #Trump looking like Julius Caesar. (Wait. Scratch that last statement. Reverse its ending). Don’t/can’t people understand that Julius Caesar by Shakespeare has a lot more to offer than just the bloody death of a lingering, sleeping, lazy, precursor to this/our world of tyranny? But I digress.

It’s been a while since I read the play. In fact, it’s now on my to-do re-read list–especially after trying to absorb The Ides of March which ultimately brings me back to Julius Caesar–the play. The only problem is, I might have to track down that guy from Bielefeld who I lent my only English copy of Julius Caesar. That’s right. He never returned it. Aghast! Nomatter. I still have a college anthology English literature book or two that is sure to have the play. So I’ll get to it soon enough. Also. It’s a big regret of mine that I’ve never actually seen the play on stage. Back in the day (when I was young) I had a list of Shakespeare plays to see (before the day comes that I turn into bitter worst-writer and stop going to the theatre). Yeah. Unfortunately I never saw Julius Caesar on stage. Oh well.

The one thing I recall about reading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that connects to Donald Trump being president of the land-of-free-to-be-stupid has nothing to do with his death. Shakespeare recreated the politics and human behaviour that not only gives us Julius Caesar but also taketh the man away. Put another way. The factions of politics, the believers of the Gods, the Senators, the wives, the wealthy, etc., etc., are a perfect depiction of human behaviour that still goes on today. Obviously Shakespeare–and, as I’ve recently learned now Thornton Wilder–saw all this vividly. I’m just wondering if Thornton Wilder saw it all through Shakespeare?

Coming back to what I worst-wrote at the beginning of this worst-post. I don’t believe History should be taught as a single curriculum. Instead, we should learn history as we learn other more important things. You know, we should learn things that help us think, help us teach ourselves to learn. You know, like reading, writing, science and, what the hell, studying the mechanics of politics. So. Is it possible that Thornton Wilder thought the same when he embarked on writing The Ides of March? I mean, for the life of me, why would anyone come up such a creative and entertaining take on the life of one of human history’s most notorious tyrants? But then again, if my question has even an ounce of validity… I’m more than tickled as every college sorority girl in spring time who can afford plans to win the lottery of fraternity brothers galore where tall, dark and handsome square jaw lines and eyebrows raised to prove the fear their mothers taught them have been right all along. It’s all about the end and never the means. Or. Put another way: In this day & age of #Trumpism and grabbing things by the pussy: you go girls! And so. The only thing missing from Wilder’s letter novel is a few more details on Cleopatra, the Rome visiting babe. But before I get too far off subject.

Yes. This worst-post is supposed to be about Thornton Wilder. But I’m not doing such a great job on that. Instead, I’m worst-wondering right now how much brilliance a man can possess to be able to turn out a historical novel like The Ides of March? This book will probably not leave my side for many years to come. It not only has few spelling errors but the whole idear of encasing such a historical event in letters written between those that made the event happen…? I know. I know. This is what an epistolary novel is supposed to be. But where the heck did Wilder get so much out of history to put this book together? From some history class? I think not!

Obviously it couldn’t have been Shakespeare alone that drove Wilder to write The Ides of March. Reason? Some of the letters of this novel come from pre WW2 western world politics. Specifically, some of the letters are supposed to come from Mussolini’s fascist playground of Rome, i.e. the Rome that is a bit closer to what we all know today (geographically). Oh yea, baby. At the least people should be required to read The Ides of March only to see how a brilliant mind can work shit out as though there’s no need for fake newz, faux newz or profit margins being evaluated before anything has ever even been done.

We’re living in times where millions upon millions of people who watch WWE also stand by the election of an abomination to the highest political office the world has ever mis-created. The Ides of March is welcome read to help one gather thoughts about a world of worst. Or maybe not.

I am somewhat taken aback at how good The Ides of March is, especially since I read it many years ago but seem to have misplaced what I read in the confines of my dark-mind. Why isn’t The Ides of March part of study in ALL school systems? I mean, it doesn’t matter if this is a pseudo-history or if Julius Caesar is only a caricature for what so many men have desired to become. What matters is the depiction of all that is wrong in human nature–which seems to be what this world is all about. It’s as though Thornton Wilder lays out for us effortlessly an easy-to-read soap-opera-like novel in the form of letters sent between neighbours of all sorts–like the ones next to you. And even though Wilder complicates things by interjecting and mixing up those letters, especially chronologically, it doesn’t matter. The feeling that you’re reading a story someone is able to piece together with a brilliant mind, with brilliant intent, is worth every moment. Human nature hasn’t changed one bit–according to Shakespeare and Thornton Wilder. And that’s the crux of what people misunderstand in these days of selfish, beguiled confusion about money, greed and pussy-grabbing galore.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo-Review #5: R&M Charger GX 4000km

bike review 4000km_4
Trees falling like crazy ’round here. Storms, über-wet ground, and, perhaps, top heavy Germans.

Pseudo-Reviews begin here.

It’s been a long cold wet winter, dear worst-rider. No. Seriously. The weather has been so dismal the past few months here in the Germania tribe of #eurowasteland that I’ve barely ridden the R&M. Although I’ve been living in the old country for well over twenty-five years now, this past winter season has been extreme when it comes to all things wet and cold. That in and of itself is worth worst-writing about (or am I already doing that on this worst-blog?) Nomatter. Speaking of weather…

I was in The Homeland recently… Can you believe you can call it that now? But perhaps they shouldn’t stop there. Perhaps they should/could call it Orwell’s Homeland. But I digress.

I was in The Homeland last October for a wonderful visit. Spent some beautiful days in Baltimore. That’s right, dear worst-rider. When the police aren’t shooting people and when the automatons aren’t walking around like Zombies, and when the f’n sun shines like there’s no tomorrow, Baltimore is actually a great little city to hang around for a few days. This particular visit left me with the impression that October weather in Baltimore is the best weather in the world. Add to that the fact that once I stepped foot back in the old country, about two weeks after my Homeland visit, it started to rain and didn’t stop until yesterday. I kid you not!

I’ve experienced wet and cold weather living in this part of #eurowasteland. But in my twenty-five years I can’t remember it being this bad. I’m kinda ashamed I didn’t do more worst-riding for the past few months. But I’ve set my riding weather limits to seven degrees celsius and trees being uprooted due to flooding ground water. Yea, limits. (See pic above.)

bike review 4000km_3
Shelf space for bike stuff. I’m actually regretting have bought two knob tires (tyres); I’m probably gonna go with more street oriented tires after current set wears out.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think this break from the R&M has done me some good. It’s aloud me to readjust my e-bike senses. That is, getting back on the bike after only sporadic use during the past three or four months has allowed me to re-orient myself with it. Not only that but while it’s been in my basement turning a year old I’ve finally started fiddling with its parts. For example, for the first time I adjusted the air shocks–even though I’m not quit sure how-to do it. I also re-adjusted my thud buster seat going back to the middle rubber mount from the highest (hardest) setting. I also have a new rear tire, although that wasn’t my fiddling. And the Bosch system was updated. So let’s go there first, shall we.

Just after returning to the old country last October–in fact, the day I arrived–I was also scheduled to bring my R&M in for a check-up and frame replacement. As pointed out in this pseudo-review, the dealer delivered my R&M with paint damage on the frame.  If I hadn’t insisted on having the damage repaired I’m sure that the dealer–and perhaps R&M???–would have gladly let the damage slide at my cost. I say that because, 1) I had to wait something like eight months for the frame and 2) after the dealer finally replaced it and I picked up the bike, they said/claimed the following:

“You know, we replaced that frame, which would normally have cost around five hundred or so in labour, for nothing.”

My response: Whaaaaaaaaa?

I don’t know about your experience with customer service, dear worst-rider, but such a comment is common-place here in #eurowasteland, especially in certain parts of Germany where people really do believe they $hit roses. But enough of my worst-writing vulgarities and limited intellect as a somewhat disappointed high-end e-bike consumer.

So. During this money grubbing check-up my frame was replaced. They also replaced both rear brake pads, which I questioned (more on that in a sec). I also had them install a new rear tire even though it could have probably gone a few hundred kilometres more–but that was my choice. I was thinking at the time that I’d kill two birds (with one stone) and  bought a second tire (see pic above where said tire is neatly folded and waiting). I’m now thinking that was an error on account I’m almost sure I want to go with more street oriented tires in the future. Maybe more on that later. They also updated my Bosch system with the new eMTB riding mode. Let me say this about eMTB:

Whoop-di-fcuking do!

In fact, I might even ask the dealer (it’ll be a new dealer by then) if I can return my Bosch system back to the old riding modes. With four modes of riding, I really don’t see the reasoning behind eMTB, which seems to only combine the top three levels of riding. In fact, the other day while going up a short but very steep hill using eMTB the motor kicked a bit too hard and caused a wheelie. To prevent a backward flip I had to jump off the pedals. Indeed. Unwanted wheelies during steep ascensions… I’m gettin’ too old for that $hit.

bike review 4000km_2
There’s an owner’s manual for a lot of Suntour forks here, just not for mine.

As far as the brake pad replacement goes, there is a problem with the rear brake calliper on my R&M. In my opinion, the frame mounts are not properly aligned for this calliper setup. The brake pad that is on the outside of the disk is always rubbing. I know this because the rear wheel never spins freely. Although there is a way to adjust the position of the calliper on the frame mounts, it can’t be moved enough to one side to prevent the rubbing on one of the pads. Once I get a new dealer, I’ll be addressing this issue. Otherwise I’ll be replacing pads mostly because of this unnecessary rubbing.

Actually I don’t have anything more to say about the tires on this bike. I love them. So I might just go one more set and then go to street tires. I don’t know. I’m confused about tires.

The front forks have no manual.

The pic above is a screenshot of the CD that was delivered with this bike that is supposed to contain an owner’s manual for my forks. The only problem is, there is no manual. The good news is that my bike was delivered with a cute little air pump specific to these forks. This is helpful because they are springless air forks. If, by accident, you let out all the air–which I did–you’ll need this pump to get going again. Either that or you’ll have to ride home with useless, impotent front forks. (Sounds worst-rider erotic, eh!) And there is one other problem. Because there is no user manual for the forks, how much pressure can I put in them? Since I fiddled around with air forks back in the day when I was a real-man motorcyclist–as opposed to a wuss on an e-bike–I figured I could fill the forks till they don’t move anymore, which I think was around 150psi. Right now I’m running something like a 100psi and they’re still a bit hard. Or is it 10psi? Who the fcuk cares. And you know what they say about hard (forks) and men in their fifties, right? Ok. Enough.

bike review 4000km_1
R&M heaven or how they look after turning a year old.

Btw, my better-half’s R&M Mixte is definitely gonna skip the eMTB Bosch update. The main reason is because the update seems to be just another gouging mechanism for dealers. You see, Bosch doesn’t charge for the update. But dealers do. Go figure. Also. The Mixte is mostly used on roads, so it really doesn’t need eMTB.

In the last few days I’ve been able to go on longer rides with my GX, even though off-road is still very very wet–in fact so wet that even my extra wide tires sink a bit much for my taste. We’re planning a new tour up on the Baltic Sea at the end of May, though. We’re looking at about ten days of riding and maybe 1500km along the German north coast not far from Poland. Looking forward to it.

Oh. As far as battery life goes… I’m gonna have to worst-write something about that (again) soon. Reason? During the first 2000km I could go 30km before the first notch on the battery gauge would disappear. Now I can barely go 15km. After questioning a dealer about this he said that as soon as it gets warmer I should have all the power back. I’m skeptical. Even though the Bosch e-bike motor is great and I trust the Germans engineered it well and Hungarians put it together well, the battery–or the batteries–is a different story. Indeed. Batteries are the weak link here. But I digress.

Good riding, baby.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo-Review: The Shape Of Water Not Unlike My Desire Of The Her Of All Fish

shape of water

Returned from The Homeland last Monday. It was a horrible trip. It was horrible because, of the two weeks I was there, after doing some yard work for my Mom, I contracted a pretty bad skin ailment from poison ivy. In fact, as I worst-write this, two weeks after returning, I’m still itching. (But it is getting better.)

I arrived Sunday late afternoon in The Homeland (can you believe there is a govt. agency called that) and drove three hours south along the Atlantic coast till I reached my widowed mother. As usual she was glad to see me. As usual I was glad to see her. But more important I was glad to provide her with a bit of companionship. My mother is not only getting old but after the death of her husband a few years back, she’s now quite the lonely soul. After an evening’s nightcap and a few shared thoughts on our lives spanning an ocean, my first night of sleep in my mother’s house was preoccupied with a damn film I had seen on LH426 to PHL only few hours earlier.

Say what you will, dear worst-reader, about movies shown on the limited space of tiny flat screens on the back of airline seats. And, like audio and music, I’ve learned to cope with all things cheap when it comes to consuming media. Put another way, I don’t mind if I’m seeing or hearing a piece of art that was meant for the big screen on a krappy little screen, including krappy audio. I’ve learned up to this point in life that in the arts, especially the art of story telling, presentation can take a back seat–if and when it must. In this case, the film “The Shape of Water” got my full attention during the flight and thereafter–even while shown on a really krappy screen. In fact, I couldn’t help but preoccupy my mind with the movie while battling the discomforts afforded us all as we travel in/with an industry run by college grad automatons who obviously can’t manage their way out of wet paper bags–which is more proof why not only the airline industry but #Americant is in a perpetual state of bankruptcy. But then again, that’s why I almost never fly US carriers. Go figure.

That’s right, dear worst-reader. The airline industry… Or better put: the human cattle transport industry hasn’t changed in the quarter century I’ve been using it to cross the Atlantic while living as a miserable expat. So when a two hour film can captivate me and take my mind away from $hitty service, $hitty seats, rattling fuselages and stinking compatriots stuck in the same coach-class hell, I’m all for it. And that’s the ticket of these friendly skies, ain’t it?

The Shape of Water is the best film I’ve seen in years. It’s also the first film I’ve seen in years that I think deserves an Oscar–which it won a few days before my trip. In fact, like so many others and just like with so many things that were once about achievement in the arts, this was the first film in a while I thought even deserved to be up for any kind of formal recognition. That’s how bad movies have become in this age of breaking billion dollar box office records with perverted sci-fi and action genre krapp galore! And if I put some effort into it, the only winner of an Oscar that comes to my worst-mind in the last twenty years is Charlize Theron for the film Monster. Now. Monster, the movie, actually sucked. But Theron’s acting was f’n brilliant.

A little side pseudo-review. Although I focused my mind mostly on having seen The Shape of Water, I did skip through Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde while my flight was on final approach to PHL. What a $hitty, unoriginal, boring movie. No different than James Bond, Jason Bourne, Austin Powers, etc. OYG. Hollywood can’t get it’s mojo back even when regurgitating a film albeit with a hot blonde in the fighting lead. Oh well.

Back to one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

Considering what Hollywood has done to movies in my life time, I think that movie making needs to be (finally) turned back over to creative people again. That’s right, dear worst-reader. I am assuming that movie making once belonged to creative people. What has brought Hollywood to where it is today, I won’t attempt to worst-write about here. It’s just that, well, Guillermo del Toro has to be the most creative person in Hollywood in decades. Seriously. Did you see Pan’s Labyrinth? If not, see it now. Unless, of course, you’re anti-creativity and stuck on stupid comic book characters with capes and masks and platitudes. Anyhoo. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is piece of work that makes the likes of Spielberg, Cameroon, and whatever blockbuster action move director you can name, look like what they are: $hit! My hat is off and I bow deeply to creativity and Guillermo del Toro for this film.

That said, spoiler alert.

  1. The Shape of Water has its problems. The fish-man, for example. I dug out an old DVD of Hellboy the other night to compare fish-men. It is uncanny how the two fish-men are the same. Did Guillermo del Toro borrow the actor, the character, the costume? If so, does that detract from Guillermo del Toro’s story? Fcuk no.
  2. I knew at the beginning of The Shape of Water and the introduction of the female lead that those marks on her neck would end up being gills. To me that was the weakest part of the film and something I wish could have been expanded on. But forgivable.
  3. The moment where the archetypal #Americant conservative patriarch who is scared of his own shadow and is given sex by his submissive wife after she pulls her tit out as an offering when the kids finally go to school doesn’t work for me. It’s not how #Americant and its transaction-wives function in their relations. Trust me. I’m #Americant. I know what I’m talking about. Instead. I would have preferred Guillermo del Toro done the scene with the wife whipping out her Saturday night special but only after dipping it in her grab-them-by-the-pu$$y first and then teasing his lips and nose with it. For whatever reason, Guillermo del Toro decided to provide a more human and feminine form of what it is that makes the transaction of marriage sacred in a/the land of free-to-be-stupid. But then again, when it comes to marriage transactions, #eurowasteland ain’t no better. But I digress.

There are so many small issues I have with this film, I’ll not worst-write them all here. Reason? No need to. The movie is just good. Real good. And that’s all that matters. Instead, I’ll go back to my expat cubby-hole and continue the expat dream of living a life like any screwed-up archetypal patriarch should live. Alone and only available to fantasise about how things could be if only a God could be found in a swamp in South America that could/should save us all from ourselves.

Rant on.

-T