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  1. I just watched SE2 EP2 of "Black Mirror," entitled "White Bear." It was the single-most intense thing I've ever seen, TV or movie. If you don't mind not sleeping, and feeling sick all the way down to your soul, then watch it on Netflix, and don't read ANYTHING about either the series, or the episode, before you do. White Bear on Netflix --- SE4 EP1 is the greatest tribute to Star Trek: The Original Series I've yet seen - this, while maintaining its own identity and sense of purpose: It is magnificent. --- So far, I've watched six episodes of this, and it's the best TV show I've ever seen - better than Breaking Bad, better than anything.
  2. Since most of my air travel is trans-atlantic rather than domestic thought I would start a thread on a little known Icelandic LCC WOW AIR that flies out of BWI. I've used them about 10 times, for no reason other than to save money. First thing to know is they have been in financial difficulty, but are currently being purchased by a private equity outfit that has stakes in several LCC, so hopefully they'll bring some expertise. Round trip they can be $200 to $500 less expensive than the next best. Maybe that's why they are in trouble. They've really tightened up their baggage limits, so you have to be prepared to pack light, and use a cheap laundromat. In October I flew for $380 round trip that was booked 4 weeks out. To Ams, Dub, Frank, Lon, Paris etc.you have a 90 minute layover in Keflavik, time to stretch your legs etc. which suits me because I never sleep. All told it adds about three hours to a direct flight to NW EU. They are no more or less comfortable than any other LCC. Once when flying to Barcelona we had a 6am to 6pm layover and used it for a quick day trip to the city, an hour away. https://wowair.us/
  3. It seems like the Georgetown rides are no longer available, and they only depart from Great Falls - can anyone confirm this? "Public Canal Boat Rides" on nps.gov
  4. If you are a progressive rock lover, and if you have never listened to "In The Dead Of Night" by U.K., it will blow your mind. Highly recommended. Lightning in a bottle. "In The Dead Of Night":
  5. With fresh articles about it in the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company, and having just returned from my third visit, I figured this would be a good time to talk about “Sleep No More”— quite likely the most fun thing I’ve ever paid money to do. For the kid in all of us, what is the most frustrating aspect of going to the theater? You watch a compelling story unfold in front of you, but you’re physically separated from it — trapped in a seat for several hours looking at a distant stage with well-defined boundaries. “Sleep No More,” an award-winning immersive experience in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, does away with that limitation and pays many more dividends. Notice I said “experience” and not “play” or “show.” Words like that don’t do justice to “Sleep No More,” which is in a class of its own. The technical term for what they’re doing is “site-specific promenade performance”; some might call it “choose-your-own-adventure theater.” There’s no proscenium. Everyone who attends creates his or her own individual journey. You go where you want. You see what you want. You touch what you want. Inside, it’s otherworldly and dreamlike. The story is based on “Macbeth” with numerous references to Hitchcock films, most notably “Rebecca.” You’ll encounter murder, madness, witchcraft, and more. Will it be in a ballroom, bedchamber, hospital ward, high street, forest, chapel, speakeasy, or techno rave? You’ll feel as if you’ve gotten lost in another reality, thanks to the talented performers and atmosphere created by the music, lighting, and elaborate detail of seemingly endless sets. The drama of “Sleep No More” unfolds within the fictitious McKittrick Hotel, which encompasses several multi-story buildings on West 27th Street. For three hours, you become a “guest” in the hotel, where you are free to explore about 100 rooms of various sizes spread out across 100,000 square feet on five or six floors. You can follow characters who will lead you to new scenes, or you can venture out on your own to find where the action is. Audience members wear white masks to set themselves apart from the actors — which also grants the gift of anonymity. We have British theater company Punchdrunk to thank for creating “Sleep No More,” and the New York incarnation (its third) is now six years old with no signs of slowing down. In 2012 and 2013, respectively, the McKittrick added Gallow Green, a verdant rooftop bar they convert to an enclosed space called The Lodge during winter months, and The Heath, a classy looking restaurant that doubles as an intimate music performance venue. Start your evening in either spot to build some momentum before you go to the main event, where the Manderley Bar, a cocktail lounge with live entertainment, is also available to help you acclimate. Admission prices vary depending on the day and time you go but average in the low $100s. It’s quite a bargain when you compare the bang-for-your-buck here to the exorbitant prices of Broadway shows. And speaking of Broadway — when Leslie Odom Jr. concluded his tenure as Aaron Burr in “Hamilton,” how could he top that? He did a guest stint at “Sleep No More.” So have have many other celebrities, such as Neil Patrick Harris, who said that the first time he attended, he "was euphoric, literally buzzing on a molecular level." You never know who could be behind the masks of your fellow hotel guests. Due to increased popularity, the performances have tended to get more crowded over time — to the point of diminishing the experience. However, there are late shows on Friday nights that don’t usually sell out, which makes one’s visit much more personal and rewarding. As the articles linked in the first paragraph say, this type of entertainment is catching on. But for now, there’s nothing out there on the spectacular scale of “Sleep No More.” And nothing more addictive.
  6. I've never been a big Conan O'Brien fan, and that's probably the main reason I watched this documentary. Conan was forbidden from being on TV for six months after The Fiasco, but do you know what his compensation package was? $40 million. I can't, and don't, feel sorry for him. I understand he's a "tortured artist" and all that stuff, but I cannot think of one, single time when he has ever made me even giggle - he's just not funny. He says "he's the least entitled person there is," but he comes across as being about the *most* entitled person there is. Give me $40 million for six months, and I'll be out having the time of my life. Conan O'Brien is angry, bitter, *entitled as hell*, and not the least bit funny. I can see him being a comedy writer, but as a performer? He's a pasty white, uncoordinated, hack. Just once I want him to make me smile, or at least be likable. He is *so lucky* to be where he is right now, and he doesn't see it; he thinks he fully deserves it. Maybe one of my problems is that I *still* don't know what NBC did that was so wrong. Yes, Conan got ousted, but so what? It happens all the time - he's rich, famous, and successful, and it's because of NBC that he is. Or am I missing something? And as for Jimmy Kimmel? He comes across as about the biggest jerk I've ever seen - and also *not* funny. Not once has he ever even made me smile. Part of being successful with the masses on television is that you need to be *likable*, and neither of these two are, especially not Kimmel - what he did to Jay Leno with that "Ten Questions" list was about the lowest thing I've ever seen. Kimmel came across as a hateful, vindictive, little twit whereas Leno tried to take the assault in good spirits, and did about as well as he could. David Letterman? Also not funny in the least. Why is it that I find Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno likable, and none of these other people? So far, I've watched about 40 minutes of this 90-minute documentary, so I have about 50 more minutes to go. I just can't watch 90 straight minutes of Conan - would a Conan fan please tell me what I'm missing? I want to either 1) like him, or 2) figure out why I don't. Truly - and Seinfeld is pretty much the same way: He thinks he "deserves" to be a near-billionaire; I think he's about the luckiest person who ever lived, at least in terms of money - if he hadn't known Larry David, we may not even know who he is. I think that, beginning with Tom Snyder (*) and continuing on with Larry King, late-night television hosts have always come across to me as the least-talented people that could be found. And the networks did a great job of finding them - these hosts actually thought - and still continue to think - that they're talented interviewers and stand-up comedians. It baffles my mind how this set of late-night hosts somehow duped the networks into thinking they were worth something, and I'm pretty convinced that, unless someone here who's intelligent sits me down, talks with me like an adult, and tells me what I'm missing, I will simply never understand. I will add that, quite often, in the early days of television, their shows were followed by a test pattern which lasted throughout the night, until about 6 AM. (*) I remember, as a child, watching "The Tomorrow Show" with Tom Snyder, and one of his guests was a twelve-year-old boy with something like a 200 IQ (I'm not sure about the exact number, but it was high enough for him to be billed as having one of the highest IQs in the world). Snyder was a chain smoker, and puffed throughout his entire show. At one point, this child, a southerner with a heavy accent, who had almost no social graces, said, very bluntly, "Would you mind putting out that nicotine factory?" A completely flustered Snyder says, "Oh, does it bother you?" The child replied, "It makes me sick!" I still remember that to this very day and it was over forty years ago.
  7. I'll admit, watching electronic bands perform is dull - No matter what extra instruments they bring on stage...watching people twist knobs on mixers, punch in loops on a computer, or play some chords on a keyboard. Yawn. Bob Moses is such a band, but they are in the midst of blowing up. Sultry deep house vibe, dreamy vocals played over spare keyboards and guitar. They just had a big weekend: An Essential Mix debut and the release of a live set on KEXP. In January, they made their live TV debut on ... The Ellen Show. Apparently she was driving and heard one of their songs on the radio and immediately booked them for her show. Later this year they are playing both weekends at Coachella. Their Inner City Odyssey mix is particularly strong.
  8. I got the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook and it reads really well - but haven't made the time to try any of the recipes yet. Has anybody made anything from it, with or without success?
  9. The 2015 (15th) International Tschaikovsky Competition took place from Jun 15 - Jul 3, 2015, and is available for recorded streaming at this website. Piano - Violin - Cello - Voice To view all the contestants in all the early rounds, go to the website, then click on your instrument of choice, then click on "Replay." Every single performance throughout the competition is available, and it's a real gift that this is available for free streaming. --- The International Tschaikovsky Competition debuted in 1958, and is *the* competition that made Van Cliburn famous (with Emil Gilels and Sviatislov Richter defying the rest of the Soviet judges (when Richter saw what the other Soviet judges were doing - awarding Soviet players higher scores - Richter gave Cliburn a perfect score, and all the other contestants 0 points). Then, Gilels went so far as to approach Nikita Khrushchev and asked permission to award Cliburn first prize (remember, this is in the height of the Cold War, and Soviet propaganda meant everything). Khrushchev responded by asking Gilels if Cliburn was truly the best pianist - Gilels assured him that he was. "If that's the case," Khrushchev said, "then give him the prize!" This story is extremely famous and well-documented.
  10. I love to learn, and so I love documentaries - often manageable in length, and covering topics I know little about. --- SPOILERS ABOUND --- "Scientology - The Ex-Files" is just such a film. Starting with footage of founder L. Ron Hubbard. As with all cult leaders, Hubbard was a charismatic man, who backed up that charisma with severe punishment for those who disagreed with his philosophies, even having a punishment group aboard his ship called the "RPF" (the Rehabilitation Project Force - this all took place on a boat). Hubbard passed away in 1986, but Scientology carries on, an Austalian-based organization, headed by his successor, David Miscaviage. It achieved tax-exempt religious status in Austalia in 1983. Hubbard's "bait and switch" philosophy is called "Dianetics" - to fully master it costs about $50,000 (sound like a few physical-therapy modalities we all know and partake in?) We used to have a Dianetics paperback in our house growing up, stuck away on a bookshelf, and I had no idea what it was (my parents were entirely normal; we just had a ton of books), but it was the first time I'd ever heard of L. Ron Hubbard. Apparently, this three-dollar book can turn into $50-75K if played out to its logical conclusion. "The Bridge To Total Freedom" is yet the next level, dealing with spirituality, not simply a "mental approach." Now we're talking $150-200K. L. Ron Hubbard wrote a secret scripture in 1967, about an evil inter-galactic warlord called "Xenu" who visited earth millions of years ago, and the spirits of his victims are the cause of mankind's spiritual ills. Read that previous paragraph as many times as you need, and feel free to verify its validity on Google. Everyone who joins the "Sea Organization" (Hubbard's Scientology contract) signs a contract for a billion years. Joe Reaiche was Scientology's #1 person for keeping members in line, but became a skeptic. Secret internal reports had been written about him and were disclosed. He was not allowed to see the reports, call witnesses, or have any legal representation. On June 7, 2005, Reiache was declared a "Suppressive Person," and expelled from the church. And when he called to speak with his children, the brainwashed little ones were not allowed to speak with him. Similar things have happened to many other families - mind control is nearly total. As for Tom Cruise and the other distressingly long list of famous Scientologists, I did not ask for their opinions.
  11. Okay, I apologize for the tag's irreverence. Jiro left home around 7 or 9 to become a sushi apprentice. Over time, he became the master and Michelin had no choice but to give his restaurant 3 stars and declare his restaurant the best sushi restaurant, even though every time they ate at this restaurant, it was his oldest son who actually made the sushi. The movie shows that Jiro is very dedicated to his craft - doing the same thing over and over again and at the same time, looking for ways to improve. At one point though, his son expresses dismay over the disappearance of certain species and more or less blames us plebes who don't know shit about sushi yet demanding sushi at every turn. Why the fuck does Safeway sell sushi anyway? And who the fuck eats Safeway sushi? After watching this movie, I'm going to stop eating shitty sushi (it's okay to eat California rolls, since no fished died for that). Save your dough for Sushi Taro's sushi counter, Sushi-ko with Koji, or Kaz. According to the movie, Jiro's joint starts at 30,000 yen, or about $400 for 20 pieces of sushi. $20 a piece! Oh, Jiro says it's the lean tuna (akami) that carries more flavor, if properly selected. He acknowledges that fatty tuna is now very popular but he implies fatty tuna is for chumps.
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