Better Call Saul: Chuck sucks

I’ve had a few days to really mull over the season two finale of Better Call Saul and marinate in my thoughts, but my feelings toward Chuck haven’t changed.

WARNING: YARRR, THERE BE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT

It takes a jealous, vengeful person to prey on their sibling’s compassion. Say what you want about Jimmy’s business practices, but his heart is always in the right place.

On more than one occasion, Jimmy demonstrated his concern for his brother over his own wellbeing. He could have stayed hidden in the shadows outside the copy shop when Chuck hit his head. Instead of giving Chuck more ammunition to fuel his suspicions that he’d concocted an elaborate scheme to help Kim get the case that was rightfully hers, he could have simply observed Chuck’s meltdown from the alley. But, to his detriment, he ran in to take care of his brother. And for the next two days, as Chuck lay catatonic in his hospital bed, Jimmy sat right next to him the entire time.

When Howard called Jimmy in a panic after Chuck announced his retirement from HHM and from practicing law, Jimmy could have kept out of it. He didn’t have to try to talk Chuck out of his decision. When Chuck said he couldn’t continue his career after making a clerical error – a clerical error that haunted him and made him question his own judgment – Jimmy couldn’t stand the idea of his older brother being tormented by a mistake he never actually made. So, to end Chuck’s misery, he admitted to everything. He confessed to having falsified the documents to help Kim.

And Chuck planned on this all along. He knew Jimmy couldn’t stand to see him suffer, because Jimmy has a conscience. So he secretly recorded Jimmy’s admission, giving him the evidence he needed to get his younger brother disbarred (not to mention whatever additional penalties he’ll likely face). And it’s because he’s vindictive and cold.

Charles McGill is a bad person.

Or, to paraphrase, Chuck sucks.

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Dump Trump

I don’t know if the sentiments espoused by Donald Trump are genuine. I’m fairly certain he’s playing a character, being the opportunist he is, rather than running on his own beliefs. But really, that just makes it all the more worrisome.

We’re looking at someone who’s willing to do whatever’s necessary to gain power. He has no real platform – just restless animosity aimed at anyone who dares to challenge him.

He says nothing of substance. He simply repeats meaningless talking points while spewing ad hominem attacks at his opponents. He doesn’t know or understand the issues, so he can’t engage his fellow candidates in an actual debate, which means he has to rely on nasty, petty, demeaning and irrelevant personal insults – the kind of stuff you’d expect to hear on an elementary school playground, not the stage of candidates running for the highest political office in the world.

Among the many outrageous statements to leave his mouth, this might be the most telling:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

That he would brag about murder with such repugnant audacity should be reason enough NOT to vote for him.

Donald Trump is unprofessional, uncouth, petulant and without tact. He has no restraint. He is the physical embodiment of the baseless anger that comes from a group of Americans who incorrectly perceive themselves as somehow being persecuted for… something?? This is a group of a mostly-white, no/low-information voters.

If you were to ask them what they like about Trump, many would answer with something along the lines of, “He tells it like it is!” whatever that actually means. But if you were to ask about specific platform issues, they likely couldn’t give you an answer, apart from:

-building a 2,000-mile-long wall along the border with Mexico (and somehow expecting them to pay for it) while rounding up all the illegal immigrants currently in the United States and sending them back to their home countries. That’s estimated to be approximately 12-20 million people, and includes more than just people from Mexico and other Latin-American countries.

-somehow keeping Muslim people from legally entering the United States.

Neither are practical, nor are they moral.

Trump brags about spending his own money on his campaign (he’s worth somewhere between $4-10 billion), and how he’s not beholden to any companies, organizations or special interests. Okay, well, that’s great, but he’s also not actually receiving any campaign donations from the people who support him, either. So really, he’s not beholden to his own voters, either.

He makes everything about himself. He’s an egomaniac. And I just don’t understand how anyone can look at him and, in good faith, hand him their vote. He is brash, he is hateful, and has displayed none of the qualities one would hope to find in the leader of the single most important nation on the planet.

Nicktoons THE MOVIE

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So news is coming out today that Nickelodeon has plans to do movie that’s a giant mishmash of all its classic cartoons, and it’s to be written and directed by Jared and Jerusha Hess, of whom I am a rather large fan.

For all you plebs out there, that’s the husband-wife tandem responsible for Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, among other things.

Although Nickelodeon hasn’t been specific, cramming together the worlds of Rocko’s Modern Life, Ren and Stimpy, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and others seems pretty great. Just imagine, POWDERED TOAST MAN vs REALLY REALLY BIG MAN! I think SpongeBob would be a nice addition, too, but I’m not sure how well Rugrats really fits in.

I don’t know if Jim Jinkins (or perhaps Jumbo Pictures) technically owns the rights to Doug, or if he actually sold ownership to Disney, but that’s one classic Nicktoon I really wouldn’t want thrown in with the rest. Doug has always been a very special and personal show for me, and the fact that it’s grounded in the day-to-day minutia just doesn’t loan itself to the bizarre zaniness of the other classic Nicktoons. Unless they just decide to make the whole thing a really wonky daydream of Doug’s, but even then… I dunno. Doug is sacred to me and crossover just feels wrong.

I know Nick’s also working on a new Hey Arnold! movie, which could potentially be something special, but I admit I do feel a bit apprehensive about the idea of just resurrecting all these classic shows some twenty-ish years later.

If you’re Nickelodeon, I think you really run the risk of tarnishing the good will you’ve been building with ‘millenials’ (ugh, I hate that word) over the past couple of years if any of this turns out to be less-than-ideal.

I mean, do you go back and get all the creators and original writers in an attempt to make everything feel right? That’s great if you can, but if you can’t, how well can you pull it off??

Craig Bartlett, John Kricfalusi, Joe Murray, all those guys – are they going to come back and give some input? It’d be nice.

And then the voice actors – if you can’t get the original cast, then your new folks better sound identical. Sadly, Christine Cavanaugh, the voice of Chuckie Finster, passed away a little over a year ago. So if Rugrats are included, I know they’ll have to find a replacement. And Ernest Borgnine (Mermaid Man) passed away three or four years ago, too.

This is a big idea, and I like the premise, but there’s a huge risk in attempting something like this.

Old-School Cool

This is something I wrote a couple of weeks ago in the days leading up to Christmas.


 

I don’t usually work closing shifts, but that’s where I found myself this evening.

Considering kids are out of school on break, Christmas shopping is at its peak, Star Wars opens this weekend (and the theater is just two blocks away) and it’s a Friday night to boot, things were pretty hectic. I spent a good portion of my night grumbling under my breath about the stupid things the hordes of teens and (ugh) “PRE-teens” were doing in the store.

At one point, a pack of 12-year-old girls could be heard cackling, tee-heeing and saying things like, “OH-EM-GEE, like, I am SO obsessed with Star Wars!” and, “I love Harpoon-D2!” (HARPOON-D2?!?!?!) with the thickest of “Valley Girl” accents.

Later, three “skaters” were meandering through the aisles with their skateboards and acting like they were a bunch of rebels who were just way too cool for school. Yup, nothing says “edgy” like spending your Friday night in a bookstore while waiting for your parents to pick you up. Whoa. Watch out. These are some bad dudes.

Anyway, the highlight of my night (and I mean that sincerely) was when I rang up an older gentleman who told me he was about to turn 83. He spoke with an accent that almost sounded Eastern European, like Polish or something, and said he and his wife were from Connecticut, but moved down about three years ago and that she’d just beaten cancer.

He said he used drive a van for his church, taking elderly people to their doctors’ appointments and such, but he and his wife had decided to move to be closer to their children and TWENTY TWO GRANDCHILDREN.

He wore a short, trim, well-kept Johnny Unitas-style flattop; a tan/khaki, half-zipped Members Only jacket; thin, black-rim glasses (the opposite of Harry Caray’s) and a behind-the-ear hearing aid in his left ear. In his shirt pocket he kept a mechanical pencil and a click pen, and he asked to have the receipt (instead of sticking in the bag) so he could record it in his ledger at home in order to track their finances.

He’d called ahead to have a book held (one he was buying for one of his grandchildren), and said that after driving 45 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic, he realized he’d gone to the wrong Barnes & Noble, which did not have the book he was looking for. So he hopped back in his car and drove another 45 minutes across town in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to our store.

But he wasn’t upset or angry, and in fact, he shook my hand and kept thanking me for being so nice and for holding the book for him (all I did was grab it from the counter behind me, haha). Then he asked to speak to Patricia (or ‘Pah-tree-shah,’ as he said) who he spoke to on the phone so he could thank her, too.

You could tell this guy was truly from a different generation. He was appreciative, clean-cut, disciplined, orderly and responsible. In a lot of ways, he reminded me of my granddaddy, who’d be 86 this February.

At one point, he said that I didn’t have a Southern accent, but I explained that I’ve lived all 27 years of my life in Asheville (pronounced ‘Ashe-vull’ if you’re from here). He said I’d learned to “talk like a Yankee,” something very similar to what my granddaddy would say when giving me a hard time for “talkin’ like a Yankee” because of the way I’d pronounce words like “hawk” and “dog,” haha.

If you were to ask my granddaddy, who spent the majority of his life in North and South Carolina, both of those words have heavy “W” sounds (‘hAWk’ and ‘dAWg’).

The man this evening was more talkative than my granddady, and he spoke with a Northern accent rather than a Southern one, but he shared a number of the same qualities and characteristics – conscientious, friendly, courteous, kind and responsible while maintaining a real sense of humor. They even wore the same jacket and both carried a pencil and pen in their pocket.

My granddaddy, who was an electrical engineer with Carolina Power & Light (CP&L) for 38 years, volunteered at our church every week, went out of his way to help people, treated my grandmother like a queen (especially when she was going through cancer), and took care of and kept written records of all their finances.

You just don’t come across many people of that old-school style of discipline and responsibility anymore, and this gentleman just really made an impression on me because of how much he reminded me of my granddaddy.

There and Back Again

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About four and a half years ago, the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy were released together as a box set on Blu-ray. These are the longer, preferred versions Peter Jackson would rather you watch – the director’s cut – rather than the (slightly) abridged theatrical releases.

Each movie runs an average of 242 minutes, putting the total run time for all three films at just over 12 hours. That’s not including the few extra minutes between films for changing discs and loading.

So a few days after the box set was released, at around 12:30 PM on hot afternoon in early July, my friend Brian and I emptied our bladders, collected our snacks, cracked the tabs on our cans of energy drinks and got comfortable at opposite ends of the couch.

From that point on, I didn’t move from where I sat, except to change out the discs (at which point I’d use the bathroom as the movie loaded up). Sadly, Brian had to drop out after The Two Towers, but that means he still lasted eight hours.

I, however, soldiered on. And at about 12:45 AM in the morning, I completed my journey. Just as Frodo and Sam made it from Bag End to the mouth of Mount Doom, I, too had lasted the entirety of my odyssey.

I mention this only because the extended editions of The Hobbit trilogy are to be released in a box set on Blu-ray tomorrow. While some (rightly) criticize this trilogy for stretching out the story beyond its merit, it only runs around nine hours in total.

So, the next time I have two consecutive days off (time for watching, time for sleeping/recovery), I plan to marathon all six movies, from beginning to end, in one, single sitting. All added up, I’m looking at somewhere between 21-22 hours, give or take a little for disc changes and load times.

I’m not sure I have the constitution to last the entirety, but with your sword, bow and axe, you can be sure I’ll stand a fighting chance.

how to be me

how to be me:

-go to Chick-fil-A drive-through
-order a number one, no pickles, with a lemonade
-pull up to window
-pay for food
-take drink
-drive off without food because you’re an idiot
-drive back around while girl at the window gives you a weird look
-park
-get out of car and smile because you’re an embarrassed idiot
-take the walk of shame over to drive-through window
-wave like an idiot to the person waiting in their car
-grab bag from girl at the window and apologize for being an idiot
-go back to car
-drive away as fast as possible
-park somewhere far away to eat your sandwich free of embarrassment

congratulations, you’re now me

Spotted some neat stuff in the background of an episode of Frasier

frasier earthbound snes virtual boy sharp

I was watching this 1995-episode of Frasier as I did my daily walk on the treadmill when I noticed some familiar items in the background of this toy store.

The first image highlighted by the red rectangle on the left is a stack of Super NES systems. In the shot they’re only seen from from the side. I couldn’t find any good images of the box from its side, and I didn’t feel like digging out my old box, but if you look at the bottom of the lower image, you’ll see the side (at an angle), which matches up exactly to the box in the scene. It’s not a Super Set, which came bundled with Super Mario World, rather, it’s just the Control Set (no games included).

The second image is of the famously-large box for EarthBound (an expensive and hard-to-find SNES classic), which included a large player’s guide and some heinously stinky scratch-and-sniff cards (mine still smell). It’s turned slightly at an angle, showing its right side. You can see that it’s sitting atop another EarthBound box, which is lying face-down.

And lastly, the image on the right is the back of a Virtual Boy box. I’d recognize that hideous art anywhere, haha. That poor machine was only available at retail for seven months in the US before Nintendo pulled the plug. It’s kind of a weird system to collect games for, as only 22 were made between Japan and the US. Wario Land is actually a pretty fun game, though. It’s got a lot of dimensional depth and cool spritework. Had limitations (and other hindrances) not held it back, a full-color Wario Land would’ve been beautiful.

This episode of Frasier aired on December 19, just under a week before Christmas. EarthBound and the Virtual Boy had just been released that summer, so I imagine Nintendo was hoping for them to be big-ish sellers during the holiday season. Sadly, neither sold exceptionally well, although EarthBound was a sleeper hit at the time and wound up gaining a major cult following in the years that followed.

The Nintendo 64 was set to launch in September of ’96 in the US, so the SNES was very much at the end of its life cycle at this point. That explains much of EarthBound’s lack of initial success, but the Virtual Boy was a flop because it was just so poorly conceived in so many aspects, and its sales reflected that.

Anyway, I love spotting this kind of stuff in older television shows. 😀