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Weekly Roundup 2.24.24

Wow, The last time I updated here was on 2.2.24 and now it’s 2.24.24. I find that weird . . . and kinda cool. How about you? I’ll bet you do also. Maybe? A little?

Okay. Whatever. I’m just trying to keep it light. Or lite. Or, you know, the opposite of heavy . . . or serious. You get the idea.

Anyway. What have I been watching, reading, listening to or otherwise distracting myself with lately? Glad you asked because, well, that’s kind the point of this and things work out better if you just go along. Cool? Cool.

As I mentioned last time I’ve been reading Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber. Gotta say, I’m still really enjoying these stories. I first read them as a teenager and loved them. Fortunately, they’ve absolutely stood the test of time and don’t disappoint.

I’ve also been listening to the audio books of The Lord of the Rings as narrated and performed by Mr. Andy Serkis. If you’ve never heard him perform the books before then you’ve never really heard them performed (no disrespect to the previous guy). In short, Andy is terrific and really brings the characters and story to life. Heck, he even sings the songs. All of them. Which, as any Tolkien fan knows, there’s a lot of.

I highly recommend the Andy Serkis versions to anyone who wants to get into the books for the first time or is looking to revisit them. They’re that good.

I recently watched the entire Peter Jackson movie trilogy and that’s what sparked my desire to go back to the novels. It’s so interesting to watch the films and then read (or listen, more to the point) how much of the story had to be changed in order to bring them to the screen. A lot of things had to be dropped and the story altered to fit a film narrative.

Also, the books are very long and you just couldn’t fit everything into three movies. It’s not like you can spend three movies on just one book or something. That’s just crazy.

I’m sure more than one person has already done an exhaustive chronicle of the differences between the Lord of the Rings novels and the Peter Jackson movies, so I won’t get into it here. And no, I’m not too sad that some things had to be cut. Sorry Tom Bombadil stans. Them’s the breaks.

I’m also gonna watch the Ralph Bakshi animated Lord of the Rings movie and see if that holds up. I’ll bet it does, mostly. I’ll let you know. If you haven’t seen it before, be sure to check it out.

I haven’t been watching as many TV shows or movies in the last few weeks. I did, however, accompany the boy to see Kimetsu No Yaiba – To the Hashira Training (aka Demon Slayer) in the movie theater this week. It’s a version of the animated series containing the final episode of the current season as well as the first of next season. It’s all part of the upcoming Hashira training arc. If you know, you know.

It was fun and great to see anime on the big screen. The boy loved it too. We also had milkshakes. They were tasty.

In case you’re interested, here’s the trailer.

I’ve also included the trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring from Peter Jackson too. Enjoy and remember just how great those movies are. I’m not sure we’ll ever get a better cinematic treatment of the novels. Thank you Peter Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens and all the cast and crew. Well done.

I guess that’s enough for the moment. Oh, in case you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to check out the thing there on the right side (or below if you’re on mobile). Be sure to register to vote and then vote. It’s pretty important, especially if you give a shit about Democracy.

Be kind to each other.

 

 

Image: New Line/Warner Bros. / Amazon

(Semi)Weekly Roundup 2.2.24

Well, we made it through 2023 and now here it is 2024. And February too. Imagine that. I was pretty sure we could pull it off, but you never really know until you know. You know?

Yes, that’s an awkward sentence above. But what do you expect? It’s an election year so prepare yourself for a whole lot of awkward sentences and whole lot of other bullshit.

I know, I feel it too. That sense of impending doom that had sorta gone away for awhile. Yeah, it’s back now. I’m thrilled.

But hey, there’s plenty of time to feel bad and worry about the future. Although, there’s something you can do today to help make yourself feel a bit better. More on that at the end. For now, let’s get to the good stuff!

No, I did not end up getting any kind of new Apple product in 2023 or 2024. Not for me, at least. The boy, however, got a new M2 MacMini for Christmas so he can play Roblox at the proper frame rate. I don’t know, I just try to give him something he wants. Right now, it’s all Roblox-related.

He also got some other stuff for Christmas that’s not as cool, so I won’t bother to mention it. As for me, I got a few nice presents as well. One was an Asus ProArt Monitor to use with my (aging) MacBook Pro 13″. I’m not sure how I lived without an external monitor before this. People in The Dark Ages didn’t have it so bad. It’s a very nice monitor. Not 4K, but I don’t really need that at the moment. Maybe someday.

I’m also back to using a mechanical keyboard for typing instead of the Apple mini keyboard I had been using. The one I use most frequently at the moment is a Keychron V3 with brown switches. I really like it. The only thing I need to get used to are the keys being a bit smaller than what I had before so I tend to make a few more tying mistakes as I go. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

I also got a Cherry MX 2.0 keyboard (also with brown switches) to try out. I like that one also but I wish it wasn’t a full sized keyboard. I know I could have looked around a got a different one from Cherry, but this is what they had at Amazon so . . . easier. Anyway, I like that the Keychron is a TKL (as in it doesn’t have a number keypad).

I prefer TKL form factor. But really, I’m still in the experimental phase so I may even try a third (or fourth) option just to see. I probably will. One or both of these test keyboards can also go to the boy when his current keyboard gets destroyed . . . as it inevitably will.

I’ve also been reading a bit and have taken a fresh look at Mr. Bukowski. I recently finished his novel Ham on Rye. It’s even better than I remember. Highly recommended. I’m going to read Post Office next. If you’re not aware, Charles Bukowski is one of the greatest authors of his or any generation. His work (novels, poetry, whatever) are well worth your time.

Sure, his stuff is heavy. But it’s also real and alive and essential. Give it a try. I don’t know a single person I’ve recommended him to that regretted it. Maybe they’re just being polite? I guess that’s possible. Judge for yourself.

I’m also going to get back to Roger Zelazny and his Chronicles Of Amber. I haven’t forgotten those.

As for movies and TV, I’ve watched a bunch of stuff. I can highly recommend Godzilla Minus One. Amazing film, even if you don’t love monsters. I’m also in the middle of a rewatch of Mad Men. Great show, in spite of its flaws. And yes, it has a few.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. I’ve been sick for the last week or so and I’m getting tired of typing, so I’ll just go ahead and get going for now. Until next time . . .

Oh, wait. I almost forgot to mention the important thing that will make you feel a bit better: This year is an election year (as you know) and you need to vote, no matter what.

You can register right there in the sidebar of this blog. Or, near the bottom if you’re reading this on a mobile device. Do it. Register or check your status or get more info at Vote.org. Then, vote. It’s that easy.

Now go. Make Democracy happen. You’ll feel better.

Image: Toho Studios

Weekly Roundup 11.10.23

Another week, another weekly roundup. I like how that sounds. This week I’ve got another bunch of things I’m interested in, watching, reading or whatever. In other words, If I like it, it’s probably something I’m going to talk about this week or in the near future.

What can I say? I like to share.

But before I get to the (more) interesting stuff I just wanted to mention I’m currently writing this post at a library. I’ve sat down at a table and I’m typing away on my Apple MacBook Pro. While doing this I’ve discovered a few things.

One, this MacBook Pro keyboard isn’t all that “magic.” Sorry, Apple, but it isn’t. It’s just okay. Personally, I prefer a bit more mechanical feel and a bit more key travel. The keyboard on my Linux/Windows laptop (from Lenovo) is way better than the one on this MacBook Pro.

I would sacrifice a bit of girth in order to get a better keyboard on an Apple laptop. Apparently, Apple doesn’t agree or care. Alas.

They used to care. In fact, the best laptop keyboard Apple ever made was the Powerbook 1400c and that’s from 1998. Maybe one of these days I’ll get my wish for a better keyboard. Probably not.

I’ve also realized the table I’m sitting at is slightly too high for me to type comfortably. I tend to be a lazy typer and rest my wrists on the laptop while typing. The height of the table makes it feel like I’m typing up hill a bit. It’s not a big deal, I’m just used to my desk at home and this just feels different.

Finally, this library is really quiet. I’m impressed so many people can shut up for so long. The section I’m in does seem like the more serious “study” area, so that might have something to do with it. But still, it’s really quiet. Almost too quiet.

Okay, enough of that. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Regardless of what I said above, I’m still very interested in the new M3 MacBook Pros Apple announced recently. No, I don’t absolutely need a new laptop, but they do look cool and are, apparently, blazing fast. So, maybe.

The reality is I’ll probably end up getting a new iMac instead. They’ve also been bumped to the M3 chipset and I’ve been thinking about my current setup lately and how, or if, it needs improvement. At the moment, I’m laptop only and have been for a few years.

I intended to get an external monitor for the MacBook Pro but never got around to it, mostly because it worked well enough and I was able to get stuff done without it. But now? I’m thinking.

Picking up an iMac would solve a few problems. I’d get a larger screen. It would be more powerful than my current Mac. I could still use the MacBook Pro when I’m not in the office. I kinda miss having a desktop computer. All true. The question is are they all true enough to make me spend the money when things work pretty well now? I guess that’s why I’m still thinking about it. More on this later.

As you may know (or not) the WGA strike was concluded with an agreement ratified by membership and the writers went back to work. This week, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP reached a tentative agreement and SAG officials called an end to their strike, which has lasted over 100 days. I’m glad it’s over. I know people were suffering, but they held the line. Great job to all and congratulations.

I just wish my union, the DGA, had held firm in support of our fellow union members. Alas, they did not and signed a deal earlier this year. Although, they did issue a really nice press release once the SAG-AFTRA tentative agreement was announced. I guess that’s something.

I’m currently on an Aaron Sorkin bender and have watched The Social Network, Molly’s Game and the first two season of his HBO show The Newsroom. Why? Mostly it’s because I like the way he writes dialog. It’s pretty great. I don’t think I’m alone in that assessment. Plus, those movies and the series are excellent.

I’ve also watched the films in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. I love them all, with particular love for Hot Fuzz, which is a favorite among favorites. Great stuff.

As you probably know, I love notebooks. And pencils, pens and all that other “analog” stuff. My friend Dave Caolo gave me the heads up on notebooks from Dapper Notes and I’m hooked. They are awesome and whenever they’ve got new ones, I grab ’em ’cause they go fast. The latest one  just arrived at my door and, as usual, I love it.

I’m just about done reading Chuck Wendig’s Black River Orchard and holy crap, it’s a good one. I will never look at Apples the same way again.

Next on the reading list is Nine Princes In Amber, the first book in the Chronicles of Amber series by Roger Zelazny. I love these books but haven’t read them in years. It’s time to read them again.

Finally, I should mention that I continue to produce a podcast with my co-host Joe Dilworth. It’s called The Flickcast and it’s quite fun. We get into all sorts of nerd stuff that nerds love. We used to have a new episode every week but have transitioned to every other week for the time being. We’ll get back to every week soon enough.

That’s it for now. Until next time, be kind to each other.

 

 

Image: Focus Features

Weekly Roundup 11.3.23

station eleven by vincent chong

I’m starting/restarting a thing here on the blog. What is this thing, you may ask? Well, glad you asked. I’m calling it the ‘Weekly Roundup’ and will be items of interest and/or links I found interesting during the week or continue to find interesting or useful on a regular or semi-regular basis.

I won’t be talking much about or linking to anything to do with the current situation in the middle East or what’s going on in the world or politics or anything too serious. This is more of a distraction exercise that hopefully will help you find something to occupy your time and suppress the existential dread (at least for a few minutes).

Damn, that was a lot of words. Confused? Just go with it.

Here’s some of those links or interesting bits now:

I continue to be interested in, learn from and enjoy the Scriptnotes podcast with John August and Craig Mazin.

I’m also a fan of Marc Maron and his WTF podcast. He gets some great guests and is an excellent interviewer.

I’m reading a book about Python by Al Sweigert called Automate the Boring Stuff With Python. I’m learning a lot.

I’m also reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Loved the show on HBO (Remember HBO? Good times) and now I’m loving the book. I intend to read all her novels after this one.

Next on my reading list, though, is Black River Orchard, the latest from author Chuck Wendig.

I recently picked up an Apple Watch Ultra2. It’s chunky and a love it. No, I didn’t really need a chunky Apple watch. I just wanted a new watch and it seemed like the coolest one. Also, it’s an early combo birthday/Xmas present from H. She’s very generous. I’m very lucky.

And yes, I know I’m always talking about how much I love and still use analog things. That’s still true. Don’t believe me? Check out my Instagram.

I’m also a nerd and this Ultra2 is pretty damn nerdy. So, there you go. Did I mention it’s chunky? It’s also made of titanium. That’s pretty cool.

Until next time. Be kind to each other.

 

Image: Vincent Chong / Subterranean Press

 

I Guess I’m Back

i guess i'm back

I think the great Twitter / X / Medium / whatever experiment is over. I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy to those places and what is there to show for it, really? Not much.

In the case of something like Twitter / X it was nice to meet a few people and nice to engage in some conversations . . . until it wasn’t. Now, well, let’s just say shithole doesn’t really begin to describe it. I do feel bad about it, though. I do. It was sorta nice while it lasted.

As far as Medium, Substack (which has other issues) and sites of that nature, I think I’m done with them too. I wanted to like/thrive at Medium and I did write some articles there. In the end, though, it’s still a place controlled by others and could, on what may be just a billionaire’s whim, turn into another shithole. Or worse.

So, enough if that shit.

I really think I should just concentrate what little time/effort/patience/talent I have on this blog. After all, it’s been with me since 2004 and unless I totally fuck something up (not out of the question) it should be here until they pry it from my cold, dead hands. Comforting thought, that.

So that’s it.

People keep asking if I’m back. Yeah, I guess I’m back.

 

 

Image: Lionsgate

Going Medium to Get Large

Hello friends. It’s that time. I’ve finally made a decision.

I’m going to be shifting my writing focus over to Medium for the time being. What does that mean? I won’t be writing anything new here. Instead, I’ll be ranting, raving and otherwise smacking the keys over at Medium.

Why, you may wonder? It’s a long story but let’s just say I’m trying to simplify my life, write more and potentially expand my audience. I think Medium has the best chance of helping me do those things.

So, if you enjoy my musings, please go to my Medium site and continue to enjoy. And tell a friend.

Thanks for a great time. I really appreciate you hangin with me all these years. I’ll see you on the other side.

Until then, try to be kind to each other.

Trying Something New at Micro.blog

micro.blog

By now many people who care are either outraged or happy Elon Musk is (probably) buying Twitter. There’s also some people who land in the middle.

Those people are concerned about what might happen but not enough to leave Twitter in protest. Instead, preferring to stay and get into some “good trouble.” For the moment, I’m in that camp.

But even if I do stay on Twitter, I’m also exploring other options. That brings me to Micro.blog.

It’s like Twitter in some ways but different in others. To really know what I’m talking about, you should probably just check it out for yourself. If you want to follow me over there, I’m @ChrisU

I also bring this up because I’m going to let Micro.blog start cross-posting to this blog. It’s a test to see if it’s more useful than annoying. I guess we’ll see.

(Update: Well, I guess I’m a bit dumb. Turns out I can post to Micro.blog from here but not, as yet, the other way around. So yeah, you won’t be seeing anything from Micro.blog on here until they work out how to do it. As you were.)

So, (don’t) expect frequent short posts on here in addition to the longer ones that appear, well, not as often as I’d like. I know, I know. I’m working on it.

That’s it for now. Try to be kind to each other. We need it now more than ever.

2022 Continues to Be Okay I Guess

I didn’t mean to leave you hanging this long. My apologies. In my last post I said I’d come down with “something” that may or may not have been COVID.

Long story short, I don’t know if it was COVID but it only lasted a week or so and I feel fine now. I did end up finding a way to get tested, though. The kid’s school has a deal with some testing sites and he and I went to one, waited three hours, and got a swab shoved into our nostrils so far it came out our ears.

No, not really. It just felt like it. Of course, I went first to show him it was no big deal. He was very brave, especially after the first nostril. We got ice cream after, as you do.

We both tested negative, so who knows? He did end up up getting sick too and lost his sense of taste and smell for a couple days, which seemed like COVID to me. But again, he tested negative so we’ll never really know I guess.

We’re both fully vaxxed, by the way. If we did have COVID, I’ll assume that’s why we didn’t have more serious symptoms. I’m must glad it wasn’t more serious no matter the reason.

Since then, we’ve avoided any more sickness at the house and Summer is a month away. Fingers crossed we make it without further incident. The kid continues to wear a mask at school, even though it’s not “mandatory” anymore.

Removing the mask mandate was yet another fucking stupid decision on the part of our government, but I’lll try to keep my rants to a minimum this week. No promises, though.

Let’s just say I’m still not impressed with the way our governments, Federal, State and local, have handled the pandemic. We’re just lucky it wasn’t much worse. Of course, tell that to the families and friends of all the people who’ve died from COVID. They’re probably not too impressed either.

And as if we didn’t have enough problems, it looks like man-child Elon Musk is buying Twitter. I’m sure he’ll make it a much better place to socialize. Yeah, no doubt in my mind whatsoever. Yeah . . .

In unrelated news I’ve started to explore alternatives to Twitter. So far, I’ve landed at Micro.blog. I’m @ChrisU on there, just like on Twitter, so I should be easy to find. You may want to check it out.

I’m also making The Flickcast podcast every week with my pal Joe Dilworth. It’s going great and still fun, so I plan to continue doing it until people tell me to fuck off. So far, so good.

Finally, I’ve started drawing and painting again. I was inspired by my friend Dave Caolo, some books I saw on Urban Sketching and the Urban Sketching World website. Basically, you go to a place (city street, cool building, wherever) and sketch/draw it with pen and ink and then add some color with watercolor paint.

It’s really been fun, even though I’m not very good at it (and that’s being kind). Still, art of any kind is wonderful. It’s also great therapy and allows you to free your mind and not think about horrible shit all the time. Not that I do that.

I only think about horrible shit the appropriate amount of time.

Okay. I’ll try not to make the time between posts so long from now on. I know you all miss me when I’m gone too long.

Oh, that’s one of my drawings at the top of this post. It’s a photo of it from my sketchbook. Yes, I have a sketchbook. I’m an artist now, don’t you know.

It’s not the worst I’ve done and I don’t hate it, so that’s something. I’ll keep at it.

Okay. Gotta go. Until next time, be kind to each other.

Getting Rid of Stuff and More Updates for 2022

2022

Hi. It’s me again. I hope you all had a merry holidays and a festive new year. We didn’t do much to celebrate or put up decorations or whatever you’re supposed to do.

In fact, we hardly decorated at all. We did put up a tree, which was nice. But we didn’t do much to the outside of the house.

I’m not that disappointed about it. Nobody else was either. It was just something we didn’t do this time.

The kid was happy anyway. Santa still dropped by and he got a lot of stuff he desperately needed (sarcasm, in case you can’t tell) and his mom got a couple things too. So did his grandparents. I got one or two things as well.

But really, I didn’t need much of anything. Sure, I made an Amazon wishlist or whatever, but that was just because H insisted. I didn’t really want anything for Christmas.

I’ve got more “stuff” than I really need.

One of my “problems” is this: If I’m interested in something, a hobby or something work-related, I’ll go deep into it and get the required tools or whatever, to perform the task or function I need to perform. Basically, I want the right tool for the job.

This tends to mean I end up with a lot of stuff. Sure, I use most of it (some of it every day) but it also means other stuff just sits there unused, or is only used sporadically.

Or, let’s face it, not at all after the first day, week, month, etc. That happens too. I burn out on hobbies sometimes, but the stuff is still there. And I’ve been doing this for years. So yeah, I end up with a lot of stuff.

I should really get rid of some of it.

I’m sure to some of you this “problem’ doesn’t sound too bad. And I know I’m very fortunate to have this problem at all and to afford to enjoy hobbies and acquire tools as I need/want them. I get that.

But that’s not really the point of this exercise. The point is I have too much stuff and will need to take appropriate steps one of these days before there’s no room left for the rest of us.

I’m joking, mostly. It won’t get that bad. I’m not a hoarder. You’re a hoarder. Anyway . . .

There’s other business.

The Flickcast podcast is going great. We’ve got over 400 episodes so far! How about that? If you don’t know, I co-host and produce a podcast called The Flickcast.

It’s all about stuff nerds love. It’s fun and you should definitely check it out.

We’re also working on new guests and some changes for the podcast, which I’m excited about. 2022 should be a great year for the show. Fingers crossed.

• I’m still on Twitch Sunday nights playing D&D with the Whiskey & Waffles gang. It’s also fun and you should check it out too. Although, I won’t be on this weekend due to, well, keep reading.

• I’ve also updated my business website and have been offering prints of my photography for sale. A couple people have even purchased prints. I greatly appreciate that.

• And now, to bury the lead (my High School journalism teacher would not be happy with me). Our kid went back to school in-person a little over a week ago and, of course, that means I got something. Not sure if it’s COVID or a cold or what it is, but it’s definately something.

Good luck finding a COVID testing center appointment anywhere in the next few weeks, though. I sometimes forget Austin is in Texas where the GOP and our “governor” are real pieces of shit and seemingly do whatever they can to make this pandemic worse for people. I just want a test. Why are many of the testing centers closed now?

COVID isn’t over, FFS. Maybe we should let testing centers stay open and allow for virtual school options? Probably a good idea.

I did order home test kits. Let’s see if they arrive . . . ever. Maybe I should just wait for the Biden Admin to send out test kits? I’m sure that’s going to happen real soon now. I won’t hold my breath.

How many years has this pandemic been going on and we still don’t have home tests or adequate supplies of masks, etc.? Greatest country in the world? Maybe. But right now, I gotta say, I’m not impressed.

Fortunately, my symptoms of whatever this is are relatively mild. So if it is COVID, it seems my triple dose of Pfizer vaccine is doing its job. Hopefully this trend continues. I think it will.

Everyone in my house is vaccinated to the fullest extent, too. So whatever I have hopefully won’t be a problem for them. Meantime, I’m mostly staying in my office and sleeping in the guest room until I feel better.

And, if I do need to venture outdoors I’m masking with my dwindling supply of N95s and keeping my distance, just like I have been for the last 20 months plus. I do try to minimize my exposure to others as much as I can. But really, I did that before the pandemic too so . . . yeah.

If you’re worried about me, first off, I appreciate it. Thanks very much. I’m sure I’ll be fine. I have the benefit of modern science on my side. Which is nice.

If only everyone (or enough of you) thought so too. This all might have been over sooner. Alas . . .

Okay. Rant over. Thanks for reading. See you on the other side.

Reversing Changes and More

As I said in a previous post, I moved the Ullrich Media website off of Squarespace with the intent of hosting it on our dedicated Media Temple server. But after I did I realized something: the site looked like ass.

The sad truth is I’m not a web designer, nor do I know that much about WordPress. And, if I’m being honest, I don’t really have the time to learn more about either of those things right now.

I would love to, believe me. But for now I’ve made the decision to return to Squarespace and keep that as the home of Ullrich Media for the foreseeable future. It’s just easier and I need things to be easier right now.

I think you can probably relate.

In addition, I made some changes to the site itself, which is actually quite easy to do with Squarespace. No, they didn’t pay me to say that. Although, I’m open to it . . .

For the site I added more photos and made the portfolio section a bit more organized to highlight my work. Mostly I grouped the photos in different sections depending on the kind of photo they are. If you go there it will make more sense.

And hey, I also decided to offer prints of some of my photographs too. You should buy one, framed, and hang it on your wall. I did. It looks pretty cool.

Here’s the direct link to my Print Shop. There’s also a link when you go to the main Ullrich Media website too, if you’re so inclined.

I think that’s it for the moment. At least where my website and work/personal stuff is concerned.

Wait. I know what you’re thinking: Hey Chris, where’s that book you were working on? Oh that. I’m still working on it . . . and a new one in an entirely different genre.

So far, so good for both.  More on those soon.

Oh, it looks like we might get a vaccine for the kids pretty soon, which I’m quite happy about. Good for the kids and, frankly, good for the parents too.

It will be nice for everyone when the kids can go back to school, be with their friends and worry a lot less about being exposed to a potentially deadly virus. Very nice indeed.

Let’s hope all the parents (or enough of them) decide to vaccinate their kids. They should, but you never know . . . selfish assholes can have kids too.

I hope you’re not one of those. But since you’re reading this, you probably aren’t. I don’t think that’s my “audience,” but who knows?

Okay, that’s really all for now. Be kind to each other until I get back. Okay?

 

Image: ©2021 Chris Ullrich. All Rights Reserved.