42/2353. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
I'd call this Australian movie an exercise in expressionism, since the narrative is, shall we say weak, and the pace, shall we say languid? In other words, I found it both irritating and dull in equal measure. I'll not watch it again.

43/2354. One Bad Apple: A Hannah Swensen Mystery (2024)
Hannah the Baker is back, this time in a movie written by series star Alison Sweeny. I have to say, she's done a fine job giving us more of what we expect. This, the formerly titled Murder, She Baked series, remains my favorite recurring Hallmark Mystery series.

44/2355. Bullets or Ballots (1936)
Lawman Edward G. Robinson goes undercover to break up a criminal syndicate that employs Humphrey Bogart. It's not a particularly great work of art, but Robinson and Bogart make it watchable.

45/2356. The Sea Hawk (1940)
With Errol Flynn in the lead role, it's impossible not to say this is Adventures of Robin Hood on a boat. I didn't care for all the ship-to-ship B-roll action shots, and the climactic sword fight felt a little too staged, but the stuff in between is plenty engaging. Boy, howdy, did that Flynn have some screen charisma.

46/2357. A Biltmore Christmas (2023)
I joined Mom in watching this non-mystery Hallmark movie in part because it was filmed in (and sponsored by) Biltmore Estate, in part because it was made by people who clearly love Turner Classic Movies, and in part because Jonathan Frakes has a key role. I think in the right hands and with the right budget, this could have been better than a TV movie, but you know what you're getting you see the Hallmark Channel's name on the intro.

More to come.

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She lulled me into a false sense of security

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Google has added an "AI Overview" to the top of its search results, and I don't like it. It's not that I don't like having a quick response for queries likes "define calumnies" or "weather radar newnan ga," it's that I don't trust the AI's fact checking abilities yet. And I especially don't like any response that starts "According to a Facebook post,...".

In my high school history classes, when I wasn't being told that I would fail Georgia's statewide standardized tests if I didn't say that the South fought the Civil War over "States Rights," I was taught to consult primary sources for accurate answers. (In hindsight, I'm sure this was the teacher's way of telling me the whole "States Rights" thing was bullshit, but we didn't have easy access to actual historical transcripts of the South Carolina Declaration of Secession in the days before the Internet.)

I've played around with Chat GPT enough to know that it is less reliable than a Wikipedia page. So when I already have to Google at least 6 different variations of "lg washer inlet valve" to find the correct replacement part number, I'm not inclined to believe whatever word salad response the AI scrapes from untrustworthy websites in response to even my casual queries asking for things like "children's television hosts atlanta 1950s 60s" or "who wrote transformers tv episodes."

I know that I'm in the minority here. I don't like explainer YouTube or TikTok videos, either. I happen to enjoy research. I grew up with libraries and printed periodicals, and I can read pretty quickly. Just give me a list of links, Google, and let me do the hard work of finding the right answers. I'd much rather have open questions than wrong answers.

If I have to get my mother to fact check all of Google's responses, I might as well start my own website called Ask My Mom. I don't want to have to do that if I can avoid it. Mom's smart, but there are definitely some queries I'd just never ask her, if you know what I mean. (I'm looking at you, "dua lipa acm awards dress.")

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I remembered that second (of three) thing I was going to post yesterday! I was going to say that I finally took a COVID test.

Not because I thought I might have COVID, mind you. I took it because our last government-provided COVID tests were expiring, and we were going to throw them away. As a shut in who aggressively shuns human contact, I had never had cause to take one yet, and I figured I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see what all the hubbub had been about.

For the record, yeah, that stick up my nose tickled... until it drew blood, so I might have been a little too enthusiastic. But it was all good news:

1526 days and counting (knock on wood)

My memory may not be doing so great, but still no COVID. Yet.

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Three things:

Thing One: Coca-Cola's summer promotion involves decorating their cans and bottles with pictures of Marvel Comics super heroes. I bought a 24 pack expecting an assortment of heroes, but no, all 24 cans were the same picture of Electra. Very disappointing. I've now drunk more cans of Coca-Cola with Electra's picture on them than I have bought comic books with Electra pictured in them. Meanwhile, my aunt bought me a 20-oz bottle of Coke Classic because she saw a picture on it of some guy in tights on it and thought I would like it even though she had no idea who it was or which characters I liked. It was Wolverine. To be fair to my aunt, even though I haven't bought a single Wolverine comic in decades, I have definitely bought more Wolverine comics in my lifetime than I have bought Elektra comics.

Thing Two: When I composed this post in my head while walking the dogs, I knew there were three things. However, I don't currently remember what thing two is. Give me a minute. I'll come back to this one.

Thing Three: I wore a kilt for the first time yesterday. I'd been saying for years that I was going to shop for one at the annual Georgia Renaissance Fair, but haven't, in part because it seems a little like cultural appropriation to me, even though Mom can trace her (and therefore mine) very WASPy ancestry well back to Scottish Clan Napier in the 18th century. I ended up buying one online, a modern cotton twill utility kilt instead of the traditional wool tartan because the whole point of wearing one was to stay cooler in the long Georgia summer. To my surprise, I liked it. I liked it a lot, especially while walking the dogs. I might buy another.

Thing Two Again: Hmm. I recently broke a part on our washing machine, but I don't think that was it. And my car was in the shop again, but that's not it either. Shit. What was I going to say here?

You know what? Never mind. It couldn't have been that important. So just two things, then.

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As I type this, the South Park episode in which Cartman inherits a million dollars and uses it to buy an amusement park (which causes Kyle to lose his faith in God) is on the 33-inch 16:9 ratio flatscreen LCD television beside my computer. According to Wikipedia, that episode, "Cartmanland," first aired on July 25, 2001. That's almost twenty-three years ago!

I distinctly remember watching the broadcast of the debut episode of South Park ("Cartman Gets an Anal Probe") on Comedy Central on basic cable via our communal 24-inch 4:3 ratio CRT TV in the apartment I shared with friends and former classmates Matt and Randy in unincorporated North Druid Hills. Matt had invited our old high school classmate, Tabitha, over for the evening, and she was absolutely appalled by the course humor, which, of course, only made it funnier. That was August 1997, and I was already in my second college.

To put those dates into perspective, I also distinctly remember watching the 20ish-inch wood-paneled TV in our family's basement as channel 46 (on the UHF dial) weatherman Denny Moore, wearing what we would now call Trekker cosplay, hosted a New Year's Eve 1980-something marathon of original Star Trek episodes. Although I'm not entirely sure of the year, I am sure that whatever year it was was definitely prior to The Next Generation being a thing.

The point of that being that in hindsight, there was less time between the date of that rerun marathon and the original broadcast dates of those Star Trek episodes than there has been between between now and 9/11.

Honestly, I'm starting to think that the real difference between the past and the present is that there were barely 3 seasons of Star Trek and South Park has a contract to keep making episodes into its 30th season. The Good Old Days were a very brief time indeed.

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To be continued...


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