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Mylenium’s Health Stuff

Myleniums Gesundheitskram

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It’s NAB, it’s AE, it’s ridiculous

By now I guess we should have gotten used to it, but regardless of my declared half-retreat from all this stuff it still pains me every time Adobe keep churning out these unmotivated updates for After Effects. Predictably the latest one is coinciding with NAB like every year and well, it’s just the same mess. Pretty much every “new” feature revolves around making the program “the best fix-it plug-in for Premiere Pro“, which many people cynically have been saying for years, and now that assessment seems more true than ever. The Essential Graphics panel really comes across as another title generator and it’s not even particularly stylish. ironically it just looks like what we expression people had wanted for years – a simple UI to concatenate our expression controls and perhaps store its settings reliably without resorting to flaky pseudo-effect hacks, but as far as I’m concerned it comes now for all the wrong reasons and looks ugly. Same for the marker colors. Adobe just has no taste. I’m also not particularly fond of the continued trend of “You have no skills with the camera and your footage looks like shit, but we’ll save your bacon.” tools. Mushing up your footage with the Warp Stabilizer in the first place and then throw another effect on top to fix the blur? Holy crap! Back in the better days my boss would have given me scathing looks for even trying (though of course we used other atrocious hacks all the time to fix “drunk camera” issues *lol*). Oh my… Well, again a “move on, nothing to see here” release, sadly.

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Dear Evan Hansen

Folks, I really need to find a wealthy man and move to New York! *lol* When it comes to musicals, Germany is such a wasteland. All they ever play here are those godawful cheesy Disney movie-based things, provincial low-budget versions of Cats and Phantom or similar or last not least Hello Dolly! and other stuff from 50 years ago because they have to pay no royalties for them anymore. If that wasn’t bad enough, of course we all have to suffer poorly translated German versions. *eek*

How miserably dire the situation actually is dawned on me once me now that I’m run Dear Evan Hansen in an infinite loop. What a revelation! Someone give them some Tonys already! I’m not saying that everything is rosy on Broadway, but even some more mediocre outings there would easily top your average German production and then every two or three years there comes some real smash like If/Then or the subject of this post. Oh my! The best I probably can hope for is to get to see a re-run of Wicked one of these days. Now I’m depressed…

Edit: There’s some good info on this musical on Cuny TV.

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Booze Singin’

As the great Eric Clapton, himself not a stranger to the addictive powers of alcoholic drinks, so wonderfully sang once: “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.”. That is a more than fitting metaphor for the third season of Boardwalk Empire. Interrupted by a few days where I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 6 P.M. and fell asleep literally 1.5 hours later, I finished the last episode of this season only yesterday after a two-week run instead of the usual one week I had breezed through with the previous seasons.

Thankfully my hopes after the rather confusing second season were realized and this one is much more relatable. Of course in the cruel and terrible sense that you can better understand the motivations of the gangsters and why they shoot someone or blow shit up, but nonetheless more enjoyable for the simple reason that it feels dirty and simplistic, doing away with the all too heady plot twists of the previous series. A lot of that just came across as pretentious and more serving the writers’ vanity in proving that they could do a Hitchcock on you rather than really serving the story.

The body count is growing as exponentially as ever. In an odd way the heavily choreographed, over-the top shootings are much better to swallow than some of the more gruesome bashing and skull smashing, though. I really wish they had left out some of this stuff. It’s also nice to see that Nucky‘s criminal past is resurfacing and he isn’t as innocent as he had everyone believe. Still, one can’t help but be enthralled by his understanding of loyalty and protecting his “assets” (which includes the people closest to him) even when he’s down in the dumps, twisted as it may be.

The women in the series remain to be a source of frustration and aggravation. Somehow I always find myself thinking “If this were real, I’d slap her in the face” (and worse). Worst of the lot is of course Gillian, trying to manipulate everyone while barely being able to hide her obsession about her dead son and projecting everything on Thommy as a substitute. She’s a total basket case ready for the asylum. Margaret doesn’t fare much better, though for completely different reasons. She just doesn’t seem to be able or willing to settle on what she has and always changes her mind as it suits her whims.

Richard is my hero in this season. Not only is the sequence where he singlehandedly storms the brothel pure cheesy screen gold, but at last he gets a little bit of much-deserved luck and love. It will turn sour again, of course, and he’ll end up with a bullet in his head just like many of his victims, but for the time it’s a nice uplifting touch after his almost suicide last season. It shall be interesting to see where season four will take us…

 

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Booze Shoot’n’

So I managed to chew through season 2 of Boardwalk Empire. Yee-haw! The dynamic of the series changes quite a bit and in my opinion not necessarily for the better. While the first season may have been snore-inducingly slow at times, the second time around it jumps too much in the opposite direction and things get a bit too chaotic, which as a result leads to some threads only being resolved in a manner that feels forced and not very organic.

Personally I was mostly put off by the casual and very arbitrary killings. I’m well aware that these were crazy and tough times and abominable things happened everywhere, but always depicting them quite graphically is perhaps not necessary a lot of times. It always seemed to me that characters were introduced only to be put out of their misery two episodes later and that itself is only an excuse to introduce more throwaway characters shortly thereafter. The way the series is eating away from its pool of characters is staggering.

At the same time some longer-term storylines become rather annoying such as Margaret being a whore and egotistical bitch, after all. The same of course could be said for Gillian‘s incestuous relation to Jimmy and an equally weird on with the Commodore. Generally everything to do with relationships seems to turn sour at some point, even van Alden. Again, it may have been this way back then, but it’s rather depressing at times. Ironically, the one time this works perfectly for me is with Richard. It just makes you feel pity for him to see this broken man sifting through his scrapbook and wanting so little – a family, some children – and yet being unable to find this simple, peaceful life and carve out a piece of happiness because his marred face isolates him from everyone.

Aside from the weaknesses in the script and overall narrative structure everything is top-notch once again. This is a posh series not shy about showing off its good stuff and you see how much effort is spent on every detail. Still, I’m hoping season 3 will find a better balance and blend the best parts about the previous seasons…

Booze Talkin’

There was a time when Game of Thrones was hot as in really hot, but ever since I watched the first season back then, I never really kept track of it. These days whenever I stumble upon some new episode while zapping through channels on TV I always have to look things up on the Internet to get at least a glimmer of what I’ve just seen. I’m sure one of these days, perhaps five years down the road when the Blu-Ray sets have become affordable I might complement my season 1 and 2 boxes and watch the full story (feel free to tick off my Amazon wishlist if you feel lie it), but for now they are only good for catching dust.

One good thing came out of it, though. The first season of GoT had the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire as a promo on a DVD thrown in. I never gave it much consideration I have to admit, but it must have been on of those evenings when there really was nothing worthwile on TV and I didn’t feel like re-watching something from my collection when it finally happened and I gave it a whirl. I was immediately hooked and regretted not being able to move on to the next episode, but as it is, I had to bite my time for the DVDs to become much more affordable.

This must have been some time in autumn of 2014 when season 4 was just freshly released here in Germany, but there was no rush and one of my more endearing virtues is an almost endless patience when it comes to these things. Boardwalk Empire barely being known in these parts, never having run on free TV and even on pay TV only for a short time with almost zero promotion helped prices to drop rapidly and those DVD sets being relegated to the budget bin. Last year I then picked up the first four seasons and earlier this year the final fifth season, and now I’ve started binge-watching everything for the first time. As I’m writing this, I just finished season 1.

It took a bit to actually get in the mood and pop in the discs in the player, but once I started, I felt at home again right away. I’m not necessarily a 20th century crime history buff beyond some crude and generic half-knowledge via some films like The Godfather or The Untouchables, so at first I was a bit anxious whether I would be able to follow things easily, but thankfully the whole storyline unfolds very organically and nothing is thrown at you with force.

Calling everything from the writing to the production to the choice of actors may sound like a cheap and obvious statement, but you can really find almost no fault with the series. If one were to have a complaint, perhaps it would have to be that Scorcese‘s often somewhat unnecessarily long-winded and bloated style of shooting scenes has rubbed off a bit too much, but with him being a producer and director here, who can you blame? This may be different already in later seasons, so I’ll reserve judgement for later.

As far as individual characters are concerned, of course Nucky Thompson stands out as played by Steve Buscemi. You really can’t help but sympathize with this crook. He’s doing bad things, but his heart is in the right place and his motivations make sense. One is even tempted to feel sorry for him because at times he seems to be surrounded only by utter morons, including his own brother Eli, and has to take things into his own hands. Jimmy is another story. Somehow I knew right away that his treacherous baby face would get everyone in deep shit eventually. The same could of course be said for the religious fanaticism of a certain agent Nelson van Alder. This can only end very, very badly.

There’s certainly no shortage of interesting story threads and developments and I’m already giddy starting the second season later this evening. It’s really strange that this series has been treated so poorly over here, given how much garbage is on TV every day…

Twitter = suck

I swear, I’ve tried! In the end I have to declare defeat, after all. Yes, I’ve shut down my Twitter account. There’s a number of reasons for this.

One of them is that you never seem to be able to find anything. This is worse than Facebook. Even the simplest thing requires you to click and opens up external links. At the same time, following other people is not an option because then you are flooded with too much garbage. Not only does my crooked 10 percent-ish Asperger object to that, but there’s just not enough hours in the day to sort through all this stuff.

What really tipped me over however is all that political nonsense over there. It’s disappointing to see how even reputable media outlets play it rough and operate at the lowest intellectual levels and it’s way too easy to get dragged into those pointless feuds. It’s funny, I’ve been a rude boy often enough and I’m not going to pretend anything else, but this stuff makes my own scuffles look like a tender slap on the butt…

Therefore if you want to keep following me around switch over to Facebook. That button in the sidebar should make it easy enough. ;-)

Black Oscars with a Touch of Gay

It’s of course once more the day after the Academy Awards, also known as Oscars, and while I haven’t seen most of the movies, I still follow these things with interest. After last year everyone went batty over the lack of diversity, this year seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy with several “black” movies having been nominated by a reshuffled, more mixed jury. The fact that Moonlight won (even if only after much confusion) tops it off and in a way I guess it might even count as a “gay” movie having received the honors on some level. Of course all of this is pretty much incidental, but it’s so much nicer when everyone is getting along and not everything is overshadowed by some agenda. In these difficult times those moments where you can just sit in front of your telly looking at a glitzy awards show through a soft filter are rare enough as it is…

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